The Anti-Racism Network South Africa (ARNSA) calls on the country to pledge to #RootOutRacism by marking Anti-Racism Week from March 14-21.

Anti-Racism Week is held annually in South Africa during Human Rights Month. It culminates on Human Rights Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The focus week is aimed at creating public awareness about racism, and how it affects individuals and broader society. It encourages people to learn and talk about racism, to speak out against it, to report it and to act against it.

The week is about ensuring that there is a countrywide focus on tackling racism and that it remains on the national agenda.

It is initiated by ARNSA, representing some 80 organisations across various provinces. The network is spearheaded by the Ahmed Kathrada and Nelson Mandela Foundations.

While Anti-Racism Week is initiated by ARNSA, it aims to get communities; housing complexes; schools; universities; workplaces; government departments; labour unions; religious, sports and art institutes; organisations and individuals to plan and host their own anti-racism activities during the week that can possibly lay the basis for sustainable work in tackling racism throughout the year.

This year’s theme is #RootOutRacism. We want South Africans to understand the root causes of racism and how over centuries, it has shaped the DNA of our society. From slavery and colonialism to apartheid, racism’s roots run deep.

South Africa has, in the last few years, seen an upsurge of overt racial incidents. Think about Penny Sparrow’s ‘monkey’ tweet, Vicky Momberg’s racist rant against a police officer, how Victor Molotshwa was forced into a coffin, or the recent attack faced by athletics champion Thabang Mosiako in Potchefstroom.

We should be questioning what lies behind racist mentality, what fuels it and what can be done to change it. We believe that we should not just be tackling racism’s manifestations, but the mindsets, systems, policies, inequalities, cultures and conditions that sustain racism in post-apartheid South Africa.

These issues require long-term work and dedicated focus by all sectors of society, which we hope can be initiated during Anti-Racism Week and sustained on an ongoing basis.

There are numerous ways that people can get involved in Anti-Racism Week and start the conversation on rooting out racism. Schools can host assemblies against racism, or consider developing and adopting anti-racism school policies. Workplaces can host lunchtime discussions about institutionalised racism, or consider sending staff for diversity training programmes. Religious institutes and community organisations can screen a movie about racism, host a discussion and set up community based structures to tackle racism. Sports clubs can host dialogues about transformation in the sector and consider dedicating matches to anti-racism. Individuals can pledge to #RootOutRacism on social media, creating awareness online. Government departments or private institutes can consider putting up ARNSA’s anti-racism signboards at their entrances. The idea behind these signboards is to counter old apartheid signage, that once taken down in 1994, was not replaced with messaging that reinforces anti-racism, specifying that the facilities are for the use of people of all races. The signboard campaign can be accompanied by a discussion about the legacy of apartheid and the responsibility to root out that legacy.

We encourage the public to let us know of any activities that they’re hosting by tagging us @AntiRacismNet or emailing antiracismnet@gmail.com. A toolkit containing visuals and branding for Anti-Racism Week, the ARNSA signboards, and more information about the week itself can be found at www.arnsa.org.za . ARNSA’s programme of activities will also be made available closer to Anti-Racism Week.

 

List of ambassadors for Anti-Racism Week 2018

Federation of Trade Unions General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi,

Former Wits SRC President Shaeera Kalla,

Former Wits SRC president Nompendulo Mkhatshwa,

Education expert Professor Mary Metcalfe,

Regional Advocacy Officer for Southern and Eastern Africa at the SRHR Africa Trust, Dr. Shakira Choonara,

Student activist Fasiha Hassan,

CEO of Business Leadership South Africa Bonang Mohale,

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi,

Activist Sheila Sisulu,

Political commentator and author Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh,

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba,

Former Robben Island prisoner Khehla Shubane,

Governance specialist and columnist Judith February,

Section 27 Director Mark Heywood,

Nelson Mandela Foundation Chairperson Professor Njabulo Ndebele,

Climate activist Catherine Constantinides,

Former political prisoner and activist Stephanie Kemp,

South African 5000 national athletic title holder Thabang Mosiako,

Chairperson and founder of the Albinism Society of SA Nomasonto Mazibuko,

Gauteng MEC for Finance Barbara Creecy,

Actor Ashish Gangapersad,

Singer and songwriter Danny K,

SACP First General-Secretary Solly Mapaila,

Tourism Minister and Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Board Chairperson Derek Hanekom,

Student activist Zulaikha Patel,

Actor Sello Maake ka Ncube, and

Foundation for Human Rights Programme Manager Sarah Motha.

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