There’s a difference between ‘race’ and ‘racism’

DA members rally at a campaign event. The party says it has found a way to address economic injustice while discarding race in its policies.
DA members rally at a campaign event. The party says it has found a way to address economic injustice while discarding race in its policies.
Image: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

The article by Carol Paton (New DA race policy entrenches denialism, September 10) unfortunately confuses “race” and “racism”. 

While such commentators accuse the DA of denialism of “race”, the DA was at pains in arriving at the outcomes of its policy conference last weekend, to distinguish between “race” and “racism”.

In agreeing that race is not a useful proxy for disadvantage — if only because reliance on it to underpin broad-based black economic empowerment and affirmative action policies has not benefited the previously disadvantaged, but only an elite few — and resolving that assistance to alleviate poverty should be means tested, the DA now correctly targets where assistance should be rendered to those in need of it.

On the other hand, it recognises that racism — the prejudice, discrimination and vilification by individuals or groups against others on the basis of skin colour — is alive and well.

The DA stands against racism, whether found in its own ranks or elsewhere, as abhorrent to the constitutional respect for the dignity of individuals and as a cancer in society which sows unnecessary discord rather than harmony.

The challenge for the DA as a party and its members as individuals is to convincingly convey this message to the electorate at large.

Accordingly, Paton misses the mark when she asserts that the DA “has taken a step back from aspiring to be a governing party”. 

On the contrary, the DA has every intention of being a governing party building on its record of good governance where it already governs.

It has drawn its own line in the sand by rejecting racism and offering an inclusive home for all those who respect the rule of law, and subscribe to values of equal opportunity, freedom and fairness.

 Bill Gould, DA councillor, BCMM caucus



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