Society wants John Steenheisen to speak on white privilege and whether or not the DA would allow a black person in that position lacking academic qualifications to become a Chief Whip of the party?
Dr. Max Price led UCT for 10 years without a PhD. They justified it. Such is the animal farm of our times, I doubt a black fellow would even be granted a chance if they are not rated academics.
The DA misses the point. They often show off academic prowess of their young black public representatives, creating an impression that their attitude towards excellence is best accompanied by some academic accomplishments. This is often the case when creating two systems for upward mobility. We know it all too well, it remains pervasive in many sectors of our society. The demands and burdens for upward mobility are still differentiated along race and gender lines exceedingly.
John Steenhuisen is fighting a political point with the EFF. Great. The rest of society indeed wants to hear him speak on white privilege and whether or not the DA would have space for a black person like him with his lacking academic qualifications climb the political ladder so far up to being Chief Whip of the party?
This is not to say I am calling for public reps to have qualifications (but this debate on sets of criteria for public reps is alive in my head with no resolution) in order to occupy their seats. The issue here is that the DA postures a particular kind of excellence seemingly for one group of people within the party while others continue to climb the ladder without having to give in to some of the demands for ‘excellence’. It is not a political cheap shot to Steenhuisen, it is simply a reminder to many of us black people of our positionality in society and how much more we have to achieve in order to be taken seriously in some circles when that burden of pressure does not befall our counterparts who happen to be white in many spaces of society.i
Of course the DA is incapable of grappling with this debate, evident in their rejection of proposals to take transformation seriously within their ranks at the previous conference.
By Lukhona Mnguni