n South African Journal of Higher Education - From 'race-consciousness' to 'colour-consciousness'

Volume 24, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



At the heart of the discussion in this special issue on race and affirmative action is the issue of whether race should be used as a category in admissions policies of South African universities. In my contribution I shall argue that there are no races. By race I mean the idea that skin colour (or other phenotypical features) associated with different social groups in South Africa is indicative of distinctive intellectual and moral essences. I suggest that the matter at hand is one of justice / fairness and not one of skin colour. In other words, the debate should be about the reality that certain social groups were disadvantaged during apartheid and that, as citizens, members of such social groups should be given equal life chances. I argue that in order to ensure that all citizens are given equal life chances it is necessary that contingent colour conscious should form part of public policy.

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