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Brandon Huntley: An open letter to Canada

142 academics denounce granting of refugee status to white South African

Open letter to the Charge d'Affaires of Canada in South Africa

Your Excellency, Mr White,

As South Africans, black and white, who are conscious of the benefits that democracy has brought to us, we take great exception to the grounds on which asylum was sought and granted to South African Brandon Huntley by Canada's immigration and refugee board.

Huntley paints a picture of white South Africans as a victimized minority group, persecuted by a vengeful and racially vindictive black majority. This is deeply insulting both to the great majority of black South Africans who have embraced reconciliation and also to those many white South Africans who value the opportunity to participate in building the non-racial, non-sexist society envisioned by our constitution.

The outrageously distorted representation of contemporary South Africa does not square with the realities in our country, by any factual measure. While the crime rates in South Africa are high as a consequence of numerous interrelated factors -- many of which are the working through of the past brutalization of our society by the system of white supremacy, and none of which relate to inherent criminal tendencies in black people--it is simply untrue that white people are being targeted disproportionately. Black South Africans are much more likely to be victims of crime, largely because they are less able to afford the protections and security measures which most white South Africans, as still privileged citizens, are able to acquire.

The account of the position of white men in relation to employment as a consequence of affirmative action is similarly inaccurate. Indeed, it is ironic that this decision comes in the very week that the 2008-2009 Employment Equity statistics were released, showing the advantaged position that white people, especially white men, still hold relative to other groups. White South Africans, who represent some 12 percent of the country's Economically Active Population (EAP) and some 9 percent of the total population, occupy 72.8 percent of top management positions. Whites on average earn more money at nearly every level than Africans. The report showed that white men accounted for 44.7 percent of promotions and 48.2 percent of recruitments. Despite the fact that the majority of skilled people are black African, many remain unemployed because they are not given the opportunity to prove their worth.

Perhaps even more concerning to us than the blatant distortions in the testimony led at this hearing is the fact that the board's panel chair, William Davis, so readily bought into evidence that surely must have been patently suspect even to the excessively credulous: Seven assaults and not one reported to the police? Tabloid newspaper articles? A person with a job who maintains the country's laws "prohibit" his employment?

The sad truth is that this case demonstrates not the perilous condition of white South Africans, but the kinds of things some people are still willing to believe about Africa and Africans, based on assumptions that continue to circulate in the white worlds they share. That the panel's chair could not recognise white backlash for the reactionary discourse it is tells us that the struggle for racial justice has a long way to go, and not only in South Africa.

We wish to distance ourselves in the strongest possible terms from the world view this case perpetuates.

Sincerely,

Melissa Steyn (Intercultural and Diversity Studies, University of Cape Town)

Martin Hall (Vice-Chancellor, University of Salford)

Max Price (Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Town)

Jonathan Jansen (Vice-Chancellor, University of the Free State)

Thandi Sidzumo-Mazibuko (Acting Vice Principal: Strategy, Planning & Partnerships UNISA)

Crain Soudien (Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Town)

Adam Habib (Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Johannesburg)

Arnold van Zyl (Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Stellenbosch)

Gordon n. Zide (Deputy Vice-chancellor, Vaal University of Technology)

Cheryl Potgieter (Research, University of KwaZulu Natal)

Judy Favish (Institutional Planning, UCT)

Nazeema Mohamed (Transformation and Employment Equity

University of the Witwatersrand)

Norman Duncan (School of Human and Community Development,

University of the Witwatersrand

Jerome-Alexander Van Wyk (Employment Equity and the Promotion of Diversity Stellenbosch University)

Ruby-Ann Levendal (Organizational Transformation and Equity, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University)

Samuel Henkeman (Cape Peninsula University of Technology)

Therese Fish (Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University)

Gerhard Lubbe (Faculty of Law, University of Stellenbosch)

Dorrian Aiken (Integral CoachTM, Procorp)

Kopana Ratele (University of South Africa)

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela (Dept of Psychology, University of Cape Town)

Mokubung.Nkomo (University of Pretoria)

Kurt April (Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town; Ashridge Business School (UK); University of Oxford (UK))

Thandi Lewin (Personal capacity)

Salma Ismael (Academic Staff Development, UCT)

Thandi Buso (University of Witwatersrand)

Christi van der Westhuizen (Independent Journalist)

Deborah Posel (Sociology and WISER, University of Witwatersrand)

Donald Foster (Department of Psychology, University of Cape Town)

Tammy Shefer (Department of Women's Studies, University of Western Cape)

Moonira Khan (Department of Student Affairs, University of Cape Town)

Brenda Leibowitz (Stellenbosch University)

Ronelle Carolissen (Department of Psychology, University of Stellenbosch )

Faadiel Essop (Department of Physiological Sciences, University of Stellenbosch)

Swartz, Leslie (University of Stellenboch)

Dirk C. Klopper (Department of English, Stellenbosch University)

David Theo Goldberg (University of California Irvine, USA)

Philomena Essed (Antioch University, USA)

Meg Samuelson (English Department, Stellenbosch University)

Rob Gaylard (English Department, Stellenbosch University)

Ingrid Tufvesson (Faculty of Commerce, University of Cape Town)

Ralph Goodman (Department of English, University of Stellenbosch)

Gafsa Datay (Transformation Office, University of Cape Town)

Ronelle Carolissen (Department of Psychology, University of Stellenbosch)

Melanie Steyn (National University of Suncheon, South Korea)

Keith Benjamin (University of Cape Town)

Tracy Gutuza (Department of Commercial Law, University of Cape Town)

Wendy Orr (Resolve Workplace Solutions)

Garth Stevens (Department of Psychology, University of Witwatersrand)

Abu Adams (University of Cape Town)

Mary Hilton (University of Cape Town)

Daniel Roux (Department of English, University of Stellenbosch)

Doria Daniels (Educational Psychology, Stellenbosch University)

Vicki Heard (Office of the Registrar, University of Cape Town)

Charles J Nicholas (Mechanical Engineering, University of Cape Town)

Roshan Ebrahim (University of Cape Town)

Fahmza Jaffar (University of Cape Town)

Carmelita Raizenberg (University of Cape Town)

Edwina Goliath (Department of Student Affairs, University of Cape Town)

Sonwabo Ngcelwane (Department of Institutional Planning, University of Cape Town)

Frans Mamabolo (University of Cape Town)

Waheeda Amien (Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town)

David Cooper (Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town)

Edwina Goliath (Student Development, University of Cape Town)

Linda Vranas (Postgraduate Centre & Funding Office, University of Cape Town)

Mikki van Zyl (Independent Scholar)

Gillian Finchilescu (Psychology Department, University of the Witwatersrand)

Vasu Reddy (Human Sciences Research Council of SA in my private capacity)

Reg September (Private Capacity)

Siyanda Ndlovu (School of Psychology, University of KwaZulu-Natal).

Kirsten Meyer (Wits School of Arts)

Warren Nebe (Wits School of Arts)

Relebohile Moletsane (Human Sciences Research Council)

Judith Head (Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town)

SP Chowdhury (Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Cape Town)

Pumla Dineo Gqola (School of Literature and Language Studies, University of the Witwatersrand)

Royston Pillay (Office of Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Town)

Beverley Thaver (Higher Education Studies Programme, University of Western Cape)

Zimitri Erasmus (Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town)

Danai Mupotsa (University of KwaZulu Natal)

Gerard Bester (Wits School of Arts)

Kathryn Pillay (University of KwaZulu Natal)

Danya Davis (University of Cape Town)

Mills Soko (Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town)

Rejane Williams (Private Consultant, embrace)

Jill Bradbury (School of Psychology, University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Imraan Valodia (School of Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Eric Worby (School of Social Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand)

Dr Keith Ferguson (CSIR, Meraka Institute)

Zena Richards (University of Witswatersrand)

Jacques De Wet (Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town)

Claire Kelly (Diversity Studies, University of Cape Town)

Dominic Wilhelm (threadmediagroup)

Thokozani Xaba (Social Work and Community Development, University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Kezia Lewins (University of Witwatersrand)

Pauline Stanford (Communication Research Evaluation Advocacy Training)

Sa'diyya Shaikh (Department of Religious Studies, University of Cape Town)

Francie Lund (School of Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Grahame Hayes (School of Psychology, University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Shane Godfrey (Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town)

Hazel Barnes (Wits School of Arts)

Julian Sonn (Business School, University of Stellenbosch)

Dr Richard Steele (Homeopath and Educator, Durban)

Jude Clark (School of Psychology, University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Justine Burns (University of Cape Town)

Sean Sivertsen (Office of the Deputy Registrar, University of Cape Town)

Murray Steyn (Communication and Marketing Department, University of Cape Town)

Khairoonisa Foflonker (Diversity Studies, University of Cape Town)

Ashly Dorkin (Diversity Studies, University of Cape Town)

Emma Daitz (Diversity Studies, University of Cape Town)

Theresa Daniels (Diversity Studies, University of Cape Town)

Haley McEwen (Diversity Studies, University of Cape Town)

Terri Grant (School of Management Studies, University of Cape Town)

Jonathan Gunthorp (HEARD, University of KwaZulu Natal)

Ari Sitas (Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town)

Francois Botha (Discrimination & Harassment Office, University of Cape Town)

Gladman James (University of Fort Hare)

Roshan Galvaan (Division of Occupational Therapy, University of Cape Town)

Noor Nieftagodien (History Workshop & History Department, University of the Witwatersrand)

Molly Andrews (University of East London, UK)

Kerry Frizelle (School of Psychology, University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Mthokozisi Mandondo (Laureus)

Sean Abrahams (Edufilms)

Janet Love (National Director, Legal Resources Centre)

Peter Barron (Wits University)

Jacqueline Barnett (Innovation Support and Technology Transfer, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University)

Samantha Yeowart (Strathavon)

Michael Barry (Department of Arts & Culture, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University)

Cecil Arnolds Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University)

Merle Favis

Kira Erwin (University of KwaZulu Natal)

Julian May (School of Development Studies, University of KwaZulu Natal)

Neil Roos (University of Pretoria)

Andries Odendaal (Private Consultant, Cape Town)

Willem Ellis (International institute for Development and Ethics, Bloemfontein)

Kiepie Jaftha (Chief Director: Community Service, University of the Free State)

Penny Foley (Shisaka)

James Mclaren

Dr. J. Francois Strydom (Student Development and Success, University of the Free State)

Luthando Phillip Jack (Chief Risk Officer & Transformation Manager, Walter Sisulu University)

Catherine Collingwood (Social Development Consultant)

Hugo Canham (University of the Witwatersrand)

Source: Mail & Guardian - PDF

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