I am very excited to introduce this Panel of Race Experts… and by ‘Race Experts’ i mean friends of mine who happen to be from a variety of different race group backgrounds and are not claiming to be experts or to speak on behalf of their particular race in any way, shape or form. I have invited them to be on this panel because they are people who i respect and who are passionate about live and living well and South Africa and diversity, unity and a whole lot more. And so i thought having a bunch of different opinions and thoughts and ideas on some race-related questions might be hugely helpful in terms of getting these conversations going.
So without any further more ado about nothing, let me let them introduce themselves in the order in which they submitted their bios to me:
Tasha Melissa Govender: “I’m Tasha, a 27 year old female living, working and loving in beautiful South Africa! I find myself flitting between my day job of Social Media Branding Ninja and struggling-writer-waiting-to-be-noticed by night. The reasons I’ve been so keen to get involved in this discourse are varying. The most prominent being that I’m incredibly proud of my country’s history and the amazing strides our nation has made to right so many wrongs; and only by discussing issues, confusions and breaking away from stereotypes can we truly begin to move on. Chatting is healthy, we should do it more! And with a healthy dose of laughter, good humour and non-judgement will we begin to understand that whilst we may not look the same we’re all pretty much going through the same human experience. So excited!”
Tristan Pringle: I am a 20 something guy trying to figure out what it means to be a child of God. In the process I’m still learning how to respond to Jesus’ call to love God and to love people. I am totally in love with my fiancée Jess and together we plan on changing the world. My day job for the last while has been working in management at a law firm but soon I’m quitting the corporate world and starting to work for the church.
My passion for topics of a racial nature stems from my belief in a world where we can be just who we are without being ashamed of it. For 100’s of years there has been intentional division, along racial lines, by kings,empires and governments and it has deceived us into believing that the colour of our skin is an accurate descriptor of character, skill, wit and value. Off course all these are lies. We can only start to live in the truth when we are honest firstly with ourselves and then with others. And so we need a platform for fresh, honest and frank gospel charged discussions. If heaven is for every tongue, nation and tribe then we best start getting along because eternity is forever and your neighbour may be black.
John Scheepers: I’m John. I’m 38 years old. That makes me old enough to remember apartheid and too young to remember life without TV. I drink my coffee too strong and talk too loudly. I married way above myself and am the father to two boys. They come with sound effects included in case you were wondering. I rest my soul by walking on the mountain and raise my heart rate by watching Liverpool FC.
I work for the East City Initiative. A community outreach ministry based in the east city area of Cape Town with a particular focus on young people and addicts.
Martin Luther is supposed to have said, “If you preach the gospel in all aspects with the exception of the issues which deal specifically with your time- you are not preaching the gospel at all.” Racial reconciliation is at the heart of my faith because the Bible story is from beginning to end the story of the restoration of all things in Christ. It is about the restoration of true humanity and dignity, about the reconciliation of people to God and to one another. We follow Jesus, the truly superior one, who did not stand on his own rights or privileges but instead laid down his life so that we might find life. To follow this Jesus in a South African context means that, according to Martin Luther, if we do not speak to issues of racial and social reconciliation we do not preach the gospel at all. May God have mercy on us!
Busi Ledibane: My name is Busi and I’m a student currently in my third year of a Bachelor of Theology in Community Leadership.
Tony Nzanzah: My name is Tony Nzanzah and I am married with two children. I am passionate about life which entails getting to grips with issues that we would rather avoid in life. I strongly believe in principles of ‘ubuntu’ that celebrate the cohesion than individuality. The best way to find each other as people from different cultures is to take the time to listen to one another and after listening to apply those community building values.
Caley Daniels: I’m a student of Language and Culture at Stellenbosch University. None can deny the weight of race-related things of our past as a country. And since human kind has a tendency to look at history but not learn from it, I feel it is important to look at where we are (in terms of race, discrimination, prejudice, diversity, acceptance etc) as a people (especially as young people) so that we know what we stand for and therefore what to fight for. (a cord of 3 (or 51.19 million) is not easily broken.
i have given them the first round of questions that you [the people out there] submitted and they are working furiously on them and hopefully within the next week i will have some answers to share with you…
THE QUESTIONS [click on the to be taken to the answers]
 “As South Africans, in 2014, how do we begin to frame our identities (as whites, blacks, coloureds etc) in a young democracy with such a long and deep history of racial hatred and discrimination?”
 We have seen our country go down hill. We have watched apartheid in reverse . reconciliation is fantasy. All that happens is now the blacks control and the whites still suffer and get the blame. With real reconciliation there would be tolerance and forgiveness. Instead as whites ,we are now wrong. How would you address this?
 Why do black men feel it’s okay to blatantly hit on/harass me? Is it a cultural thing ie. they hit on all young looking women on their own regardless of race/culture OR is it because I am of another race that my status as “other” makes me more “desirable” and less worthy of respect? If it’s cultural and “the norm” maybe I would feel less violated and nervous? 2nd question maybe for black women – how does one respond in these situations?? Cos I would give a white guy a sarcastic cut down…