The establishment of the Centre for the Study of Race, Gender and Class is one of the most exciting developments in South Africa’s academic landscape and exemplifies the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) aim of elevating Pan-African critical and intellectual inquiry.
Speaking ahead of the Centre’s virtual launch, Professor Kammilla Naidoo, the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities (UJ) pointed out that since the advent of democracy in South Africa, discussions around race, gender and class have taken place in many spheres of society. “However, race and ethnic discriminations, gender oppressive practices and class inequalities persist despite decades of multi-culturalism and efforts to celebrate and institutionalise diversity and human rights. Through this Centre, we aim to present a distinctive intellectual space for vibrant debate and critical interdisciplinary scholarship that is guided by an emancipatory agenda,” she said.
Launched on the day South Africans celebrated Heritage Day, the Centre, hosted by the University’s Faculty of Humanities, in collaboration with its College of Business and Economics and the Faculty of Art Design and Architecture, is formed by African realities, struggles, and complexities, and firmly orientated towards transformation, decolonisation and inclusivity, presents a distinctive intellectual space for vibrant debate and critical interdisciplinary scholarship that is guided by an emancipatory agenda.
During the virtual launch, CNN political analyst and former South Carolina lawmaker, Dr Bakari Sellers, who served on President Barack Obama’s South Carolina steering committee during the 2008 election, shared his views on the coronavirus pandemic’s uneven impact on people from the perspective of someone raised in a South Carolina (USA) community where there is limited access to health care. De Sellers reflected on his country’s flaws in the justice system and urged South African’s to be change makers.