Black–A Race No Longer Defined By Color

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Being black is becoming like a club with open enrollment in South Africa. After an eight year battle, Chinese South Africans won their right to “fall within the ambit of the definition of ‘black people.”

The Chinese sued to be included in the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and Employment Equity (EE) Acts. These programs are designed to redress inequalities by granting economic opportunities to South Africans who were once disadvantaged.

During apartheid, people of Chinese descent were considered “coloreds,” meaning of mixed heritage. Being colored was more advantageous than being black, but BEE and EE defines coloreds, Indians and now Chinese as blacks, offering them full program benefits.

The Chinese Association of South Africa argued that after 100 years of suffering in South Africa, Chinese citizens were just as entitled to dignity, justice and recognition as other groups.

Cornilius Parwaringira, an expert BEE and EE consultant at EconoBEE said “the codes of good practice do not acknowledge the fact that Africans were the lowest ranked of all races during apartheid…In general the intention is to increase the participation of all races in the economy…”

Okay, fine. I see no basis to argue against Chinese dignity, justice and recognition. I also will not argue against giving all disadvantaged groups economic opportunities if that is the true intention of a program.

What I will argue is— if the objective in the minds of the people who drafted BEE, was for it to cover a multitude of races, it should not be called Black Economic Empowerment.

First, by stating that the goal of the program is to grant economic opportunities to South Africans who were disadvantaged and then proceeding to describe those people as “black” the government is effectively saying that “disadvantaged” and “black” are interchangeable words.

Second, when others are considered black in the context of wrongs committed during apartheid, the dignity, justice and recognition of people who were black during that time is destroyed. No one suffered the effects of apartheid to a similar degree as blacks. And allowing it appear as if they did corrupts history and paints a false picture for future generations of every race.

Third, race is a very specific thing— people don’t usually get confused about it. To fight for eight years to have a higher authority declare you part of a race that you clearly are not is outright abnormal.

What other race can you sue to become a part of? Can all of the Africans who have suffered persecution through history and up until this very moment, sue to be considered Jews?

Jews demand respect and reverence every time the title of their race is used in a sentence. Nigerian writer, Chika Onyeani, wrote that Jews would never allow anybody to disrespect or humiliate them. They don’t believe in rallies; they don’t believe in demonstrations; they believe in decisive action.

If this legislation had been named the Jewish Economic Empowerment Act and went on to list Africans, Indians and Chinese as being Jews, the Union Building in Pretoria would have come crumbling down.

Disadvantaged + African = Jew? I’d like to see some government try that.

Even white people— throughout time they have granted rights that they unjustly denied, but they did not grant those rights by saying, for the purpose of this legislation Africans are considered white.

The National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was one group to express heated opposition to this Chinese victory.

Kgnare Lefoka argued the danger of such an interpretation, saying, “You would then come to the conclusion that a number of other population groups were suffering some form of discrimination or oppression…” including Jews and white Muslims. “This approach of the courts might open the floodgates…”

People do not lend or share their race— it’s unheard of. And furthermore, it’s disgraceful to want to borrow someone else’s race.

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