End blackface! Tell University of Pretoria to do more to end racism

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End blackface! Tell University of Pretoria to do more to end racism

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Two University of Pretoria students have been photographed in ‘blackface’, while the university claims disciplinary steps have been taken and an investigation launched [1] It’s clear by the number of people justifying the actions of students that a culture of racism is alive and well at the University of Pretoria. We're calling on the Vice-Chancellor to enforce a dramatic change against this racist culture and ensure such behavior is met with immediate expulsion.

[1] SA University probes racist photo, This is Africa

Dear Dr. Cheryl de la Rey (Vice Chancellor of the University of Pretoria)

While we applaud your actions disciplining your students and launching an investigation into the racist behaviour of dressing in blackface, we, the undersigned, have had enough of this culture that practices and condones racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination prohibited in the Constitution, expressly or not. We understand the students' behaviour reflects attitudes deeply ingrained in the broader South African society. However, it is your duty as educators to teach students about race, gender, class, sexuality and other sites of historical and contemporary oppression. This is the only way to change the culture of prejudice that proliferates our society.

We demand that you institute a program to tackle, at a structural and interpersonal level, how this culture of racial and other prejudice manifests at your university. The program you institute should make it clear to your university's students, staff and alumni that prejudice is unacceptable in a South Africa founded on human dignity, and should detail clear and unambiguous steps towards amending your student code of conduct to make such behaviour punishable by immediate expulsion.

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