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Wits University Press

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The Colour of Our Future: Read an Excerpt from Xolela Mangcu’s New Book, Explaining Why People Should #Luister

The Colour of Our FutureWits Press is proud to present The Colour of Our Future: Does race matter in post-apartheid South Africa?, edited by Xolela Mangcu:

The Colour of Our Future makes a bold and ambitious contribution to the discourse on race. It addresses the tension between the promise of a post-racial society and the persistence of racialised identities in South Africa, which has historically played itself out in debates between the “I don’t see race” of non-racialism and the “I’m proud to be black” of black consciousness. What the chapters in this volume highlight is the need for a race-transcendent vision that moves beyond “the festival of negatives” embodied in concepts such as non-racialism, non-sexism, anti-colonialism and anti-apartheid. Steve Biko’s notion of a “joint culture” is the scaffold on which this vision rests; it recognises that a race-transcendent society can only be built by acknowledging the constituent elements of South Africa’s EuroAfricanAsian heritage.

The distinguished authors in this volume have, over the past two decades, used the democratic space to insert into the public domain new conversations around the intersections of race and the economy, race and the state, race and the environment, race and ethnic difference, and race and higher education. Presented here is some of their most trenchant and yet still evolving thinking.

South Africa is ready for a new vocabulary of national consciousness that simultaneously recognises racialised identities while affirming that as human beings we are much more than our racial, sexual, class, religious or national identities.

The Colour of Our Future is a timely book. The individual chapters clearly show that questions of race have not withered away with the installation of a progressive constitution intended to create a nonracial society. That there might be good reason for understanding and accepting racial identities that are not only imposed or accepted for the purpose of resistance, but can, properly understood, be part of a positive future, is to be welcomed.” – Paul Graham, former executive director of IDASA
 

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City Press has shared a poignant excerpt from the book, titled “Whites do the talking; blacks do the listening”. This is especially relevant given the ongoing debate sparked by the #LUISTER documentary about the racial status quo at institutions like Stellenbosch University, and the ongoing aftermath of the #RhodesMustFall movement.

Mangcu explains concepts such as Steve Biko’s rejection of blackness, nonracialism and multiracial societies and insists that a framework is needed that acknowledges our racialised identities as historical experiences, and most importantly: for people to listen to one another.

Read the excerpt:

The historian Phil Bonner has described the alternation between nonracial modernity of the African National Congress and the race consciousness of Black Consciousness and Pan-Africanism as a “recurrent trope in South African resistance history”.

He writes that “this tension will probably always be with us: even when the one political tradition gains the ascendancy, the other lurks with less public profile below”.

However, a sense of this historical tension has been lost in the pretence that nonracialism was always the normative consensus in black politics. This apparent consensus is of course belied by the tortuous journey of the term.

The ANC opened its membership to non-Africans only in 1985, a mere five years before it was unbanned. Throughout its life it was a multiracial organisation. I prefer this multiracialism of its early years to the nonracialism of its later years, with some caveats. The multiracialism I prefer is, however, not based on race but on historical experiences.

Watch the #LUISTER documentary:

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