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Challenging racism in South Africa and the US: Introducing the inaugural class of Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity

The Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity (AFRE), one of six interconnected Atlantic Fellows programs, which together create a global community to advance fairer, healthier, and more inclusive societies, has announced its inaugural 2018 class of fellows. They will begin a year-long program, expanding their work to challenge racism in the U.S. and South Africa and disrupt the rise of white nationalism and supremacy.

Composed of activists, lawyers, artists, scholars, advocates and other leaders, all accomplished in their work to end white supremacy and racism in the United States and South Africa, the fellows will take part in the first of 10 in a 10-year, $60-million program centered on exposing and ending racial discrimination and violence that dehumanize Black people and, ultimately, harm all people.

The inaugural cohort of fellows includes: Obenewa Amponsah, executive director, Africa Office, Harvard University Center for African Studies; Asanda Benya, lecturer, University of Cape Town; Devon Carbado, associate vice chancellor & professor of law, UCLA School of Law; Dara Cooper, national organizer, National Black Food and Justice Alliance; Marisa Franco, director, Mijente; Alicia Garza, special projects director, National Domestic Workers’ Alliance; Dallas Goldtooth, campaign organizer, Indigenous Environmental Network; Mary Hooks, co-director, Southerners On New Ground; Christopher John, chief institutional administrator, AFDA (The School of Creative Economies); Brian Kamanzi, Master of Science in Engineering Candidate, University of Cape Town; Kelly-Eve Koopman, director and co-creator, Coloured Mentality; Talila Lewis, co-founder and volunteer director, Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf Communities (HEARD); Rukia Lumumba, founder, People’s Advocacy Institute; Ntombikanina Malinga, president & CEO, Sastela; Joel Modiri, lecturer, University of Pretoria; Neo Muyanga, composer-in-residence, Johannesburg International Mozart Festival & the National Arts Festival of South Africa; Marlon Peterson, president, The Precedential Group; Christopher Petrella, lecturer, American Cultural Studies & Associate Director of Equity and Diversity Programs, Bates College; Rasheedah Phillips, managing attorney, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia; Alberto Retana, president & CEO, Community Coalition; Rashad Robinson, executive director, Color of Change; Favianna Rodriguez, executive director, CultureStrike; Siyabonga Shange, youth pastor, Grace Family Church; Holiday Simmons, organizer & transgender rights activist and program manager, Generative Somatics; Michael Smith, executive director, MBK Alliance & director, Youth Opportunities Program, Obama Foundation; Thenmozhi Soundararajan, executive director, Equality Labs; Sarah Summers, co-creator, Coloured Mentality; Richard Wallace, deputy director, Workers Center for Racial Justice; Stha “Sthandiwe” Yeni, national coordinator, Tshintsha Amakhaya.

Author: Atlantic Philanthropies

Posted by: Gabaza Tiba


political economy politics

How to find a way back from a state of intrigue

CEASEFIRE is not a word you’d expect to hear when the discussion is about the intergovernmental relations of a country at peace. But speaking at the Nedlac annual summit last week, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa called for a ceasefire between warring sections of the state. If not a ceasefire, the deputy president implored members of the state to act in a way that maintained stability.

For a country battling with complex, pervasive and longstanding challenges, to make progress requires a strong, capable state pursuing a unified vision relentlessly. Yet in big and small ways, the government is fragmented and disorientated. The observation by the deputy president that the state is seemingly at war with itself does not point to something new. The state has been at war with itself for some time, though in less dramatic ways.

We have become accustomed to contradictions where government policy is undermined by the actions of its departments and agencies. These contradictions plague aspects of economic policy, ranging from small business development to broadband policy, where different parts of government sing from different hymn sheets.

political economy politics public policy

Reclaiming Africa’s history of economic dynamism

Trudi Makhaya’s Business Day column of 12 April 2016

DURING my undergraduate years in the late ’90s, unlike many commerce students majoring in economics, I took a few economic history courses. African economic history did not feature much in the curriculum. Some of what was there, such as the characterisation of lobolo as a fundamentally economic exchange for reproductive labour, I disagreed with. But there was enough in it to appreciate the economic dynamism inherent in precolonial African societies.

Last month, I had a heated encounter with student leaders from about six universities. It was a small workshop with student representative council members, 20 young men and one young woman. I was invited to share my views about student financing, as an economist. I have no firm solutions. I placed a few ideas for funding free or heavily subsidised higher education within the context of a tight budget and low rates of economic growth. I highlighted some trade-offs. But I also quarrelled with the notion of free higher education for all, especially wealthy students.

Accusations of neoliberalism, of Western-centric thought, of being the messenger for my “bosses” were flung at me. The more we argued past each other, a picture emerged of what many, although not all, of the students regarded as African.

Any economic concept or calculation was dismissed as thoroughly un-African. I tried to argue that every society, African or not, thinks about trade-offs and resource allocation and strategies for prosperity.

education politics Video

Student activism: 1976 to parking issues to Rhodes Must Fall

A few months ago, I spoke to Ronald Lamola and Dr Thabi Leoka, about student activism. It was a wide-ranging discussion about politics on South African campuses over the ages. Lamola and Leoka represent different brands of activism. Thabi was part of a non-racial, non-political and ‘rainbow-ist’ take-over of the Wits SRC in the 1990s. Lamola argues that there is no student politics outside politics.  They bring the perspective of what some have begun to consider a (largely) silent generation of the 1990s and early 2000’s. What drove student’s political passions back then and how do they feel about the current campus transformation agenda?