n South African Law Journal - The past is unpredictable : race, redress and remembrance in the South African Constitution

Volume 129, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



The notion of race continues to permeate every aspect of both public and private life in South Africa. Race insinuates itself into our responses to situations and people and even when we claim that we have escaped the perceived shackles of race, we are merely confirming its presence by our stated yearning for its absence. Against this background, and given the constitutional commitment to non-racialism, some academics and commentators argue against the use of race-based corrective measures on the basis that such measures perpetuate racial thinking and entrench racial identities, instead of helping us to move away from them. In the article the author takes issue with this view, contending that the effects of past and on-going racism and racial discrimination cannot be addressed merely by assuming that the consequences of race - including racism - can be addressed by attending to the material conditions of inequality and by ignoring race. What is required is to question the positions and discourses of privilege and dominance that stem from an ideology of white superiority and hegemony and to engage more critically and in a nuanced manner with the power of race and the effects of ongoing racism and racial discrimination.

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