“Previously disadvantaged”, a concept used to delay reform and progress”

5 min read

One may think black South Africans, are liberated from all forms of oppression when they read or hear people say “previously disadvantaged”.I say this because the concept of “previously disadvantaged” creates the belief on both black and white people that black people have equal opportunities to white people. It creates the notion that all forms of injustices currently do not exist and that both black and white enjoy equal privileges of being a South African citizen.

I find this view and belief, very problematic when statistic SA, continues to publish the variations between the different race groups in South Africa, and Black Africans and Coloured people still have a majority of its group of people living in poverty. One South African Scholar, states that to understand, contemporary South Africa. You must know its history. Which means apartheid and colonial benefits and privileges for white people, in particular, are enjoyed even today by white people. On the same token, the majority of black South Africans live with the downside inheritance of these two periods, generational poverty and structural oppression. For example, a poor public school system, poor health care system, lack of financial capital for higher education, geographical segregation from a place of work and useful resources for human advancement.

It’s very important to note that these statements are made based on the majority of these race groups and not the few who cannot be used as a subject for the representation of the majority of the groups.  This then brings me back to, how are black South Africans “previously disadvantaged”, when they still suffer from structural oppressive processes and the upside generational inheritance from both colonial and the apartheid era? How is a young man in Alexandra or eNtuzuma, living in a four-room house with parents who never had the opportunity to acquired education, in a classroom of plus-minus 60 learners and is subjected to criminal activities from unemployed young black men who dropped out of school because they were going through psychological problems at home and did not have a psychologist or social worker in the school or cannot even afford a private one, “previously disadvantage”? When they are presently and continuously disadvantaged? 

Does this “previously disadvantaged” speak to young people who still struggle to enter Universities because of financial constraints or cannot access higher education at previously only white Universities because they come from a school which did not have a mathematics teacher, and entrance at all Universities are merit-based? When some learners go to a school that replaces a mathematics teacher within a week. These schools take 6 months to get another mathematics teacher and these learners are expected to write the same exam paper and fight for the same position at one of the county’s higher education institution?  Or maybe this “previously disadvantaged” speaks to the few black South African’s who’ve managed to make it in life and their children went to a predominantly white school which replaces a mathematics teacher within a week? Who falls within the perimeters of previously disadvantaged? By the way, I did mention earlier on, that my statements speak from a majority point of view. I believe the concept of previously disadvantaged, was conceptualized to slow reform measures to which would create the government’s urgency in drafting policies which address equity issues and not equality issues. South Africa, has for a very long time, played the equality card which we, as a country are not there yet when the majority of black people are still in poverty and human advancement of black people, is at a snail’s pace. The #feesmustfall is a typical example of why post-1994 young people in South Africa believe that equality is an illusion and not their reality. We need to stop creating the notion of equality, it does not exist in South Africa. Black people are not even close to being equal to white people.

The race card must be at the center of policy amendments and policy draft if we are to move forward as a country and not reproduce inequalities along racial lines in a democratic government. We need not to make-up “redress” of injustices but we need to politicallOne may think black South Africans, are liberated from all forms of oppression when they read or hear people say “previously disadvantaged”.I say this because the concept of “previously disadvantaged” creates the belief on both black and white people that black people have equal opportunities to white people. It creates the notion that all forms of injustices currently do not exist and that both black and white enjoy equal privileges of being a South African citizen. I find this view and belief, very problematic when statistic SA, continues to publish the variations between the different race groups in South Africa, and Black Africans and Coloured people still have a majority of its group of people living in poverty. One South African Scholar, states that to understand, contemporary South Africa. You must know its history. Which means apartheid and colonial benefits and privileges for white people, in particular, are enjoyed even today by white people. On the same token, the majority of black South Africans live with the downside inheritance of these two periods, generational poverty and structural oppression. For example, a poor public school system, poor health care system, lack of financial capital for higher education, geographical segregation from a place of work and useful resources for human advancement. It’s very important to note that these statements are made based on the majority of these race groups and not the few who cannot be used as a subject for the representation of the majority of the groups.  This then brings me back to, how are black South Africans “previously disadvantaged”, when they still suffer from structural oppressive processes and the upside generational inheritance from both colonial and the apartheid era? How is a young man in Alexandra or eNtuzuma, living in a four-room house with parents who never had the opportunity to acquired education, in a classroom of plus-minus 60 learners and is subjected to criminal activities from unemployed young black men who dropped out of school because they were going through psychological problems at home and did not have a psychologist or social worker in the school or cannot even afford a private one, “previously disadvantage”? When they are presently and continuously disadvantaged?  Does this “previously disadvantaged” speak to young people who still struggle to enter Universities because of financial constraints or cannot access higher education at previously only white Universities because they come from a school which did not have a mathematics teacher, and entrance at all Universities are merit-based? When some learners go to a school that replaces a mathematics teacher within a week. These schools take 6 months to get another mathematics teacher and these learners are expected to write the same exam paper and fight for the same position at one of the county’s higher education institution?  Or maybe this “previously disadvantaged” speaks to the few black South African’s who’ve managed to make it in life and their children went to a predominantly white school which replaces a mathematics teacher within a week? Who falls within the perimeters of previously disadvantaged? By the way, I did mention earlier on, that my statements speak from a majority point of view. I believe the concept of previously disadvantaged, was conceptualized to slow reform measures to which would create the government’s urgency in drafting policies which address equity issues and not equality issues. South Africa, has for a very long time, played the equality card which we, as a country are not there yet when the majority of black people are still in poverty and human advancement of black people, is at a snail’s pace. The #feesmustfall is a typical example of why post-1994 young people in South Africa believe that equality is an illusion and not their reality. We need to stop creating the notion of equality, it does not exist in South Africa. Black people are not even close to being equal to white people. The race card must be at the center of policy amendments and policy draft if we are to move forward as a country and not reproduce inequalities along racial lines in a democratic government. We need not to make-up “redress” of injustices but we need to politically address injustices which majority of the country’s population have it as daily bread.y address injustices which majority of the country’s population have it as daily bread.

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