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Hermanus Anti-racism seminar

Shikaya was invited by the Western Cape Education Department to use aspects of the Facing the Past programme to work with teachers from the six schools in the Hermanus area as part of the WCED’s anti-racism work. The seminar began with an exploration of individual and group identity and the creation of ‘difference’ within a group, and how this played a role in segregation and racism in the US. The use of a more distant historical reference was helpful for facilitating less subjective dialogue, but also opened the way for teachers to examine our apartheid past from a personal perspective and the legacy of racism that still divides us nearly 15 years later.

The four-day workshop ended with participants exploring strategies for making a positive difference in school and community, and ways in which young people in schools can be encouraged to participate in making a stand for human rights and democracy. Throughout the seminar, the teachers were exposed to methodologies that they would be able to use in a classroom situation.

Below are  some extracts from some of the participants’ journal entries:

“As a white man I experienced a lot of guilt as we progressed through the day.

-       What part did I play in that what is wrong in society?

-       How can I remedy it?

-      Am I really suitable for the post I’m taking up? Will I be able to bridge all the differences and   prejudices?

-          I have a lot to think about tonight.”

“Today we started to unpack and cleared ourselves to take off those masks that were indoctrinated to ourselves. We start to know each other slowly, if there can be a forum for all schools in Overberg district from primary level to secondary level that can break the barrier, gone are those days[of sitting] in the corner. Come Out!  Get on the Bus! It’s leaving you.”

“Was quite distressing to learn about America’s turmoil regarding race conflict. How can you? How dare you? More distressing to be reminded of SA’s past. Stuff that I experienced during the 50s and 60s – stuff that was the norm – it felt right that time – I grew up with that. Then the realisation that it’s wrong – how can you treat other people like that? Then the thought – what did I do about the situation? Could I do anything? How did I address the wrongs in working sphere? Can people see in my behaviour that I’m trying to address the wrongs? What about the black people? Are they responsive/positive when they come across a white who tries? Some who has made the paradigm shift? Will they trust such a person?”

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