tensions rising at brackenfell high school – a discussion that needs to be had

In a country where issues of racism are at the forefront of the lived experience of almost all of its citizens, it is time that we acknowledge its existence and find ways of engaging around lasting solutions to eradicate it from both the private and public life.

In a recent incident which took place at Brackenfell High School in the Cape, the issue of racial division and segregation has been raised. They are calling it the “white party”.

On 17 October, there was a private, unofficial party at a wine farm, attended by 42 of the school’s 254 matriculants and by three teachers. All were white. (Of the total matriculants at the school, 170 were white, 50 coloured and 34 black.) Some black pupils found out about the party, to which they had not been invited, and were naturally upset.

In response to this incident, EFF members have staged protests outside of the school for a number of days now. As the EFF and parents clash outside the school, many believe that the reactions of some to this triggering event, and the violence that has erupted, has only caused a distraction from the real issue at hand.

Discussions on race, racism, and the division of our communities is one that needs to be had regularly. This allows us to bring the issues that we face into the light rather than ignoring them and leaving them in the shadows to be forgotten about, or worse, to fester.

To make matters worse, the dismissive attitude of the Western Cape Education Department indicates a serious lack of understanding of the gravity of this issue.

These measures taken by the EFF and the reaction from the parents is clearly not having the desired effect. The violence and disruptive protests do not serve anyone in this situation, and this behaviour is especially harmful to the students at the school who are trying to write their exams.

The students at the school should be the priority at this point, however, the side show of protests has become the main event. At what point do we say enough is enough and actually deal with and talk about the real issue.

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Author – Jessica Gooding

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