Blacks / Power / Race / Whites

A South African National Union of Black Academics

“Like Steve Biko said in 1968, I think we need a national union of black academics, particularly at white liberal universities.” Xolela Mangcu, Black academics must unite, City Press, 14 Oct 2014. I don’t know about the emphasis on white liberal universities. The struggle over universities is not only at liberal universities. It occurs at formerly Afrikaner universities. It is taking place at former Bantustan universities. It can be found at historically black universities more generally. It is, in fact, encountered in all South African universities because it is a question about what is a South African university, about what the purpose is of such an institution.

But I support Mangcu’s call. One task of our generation of academics is to effect a radical programme to free knowledge. We are called to realise what it means to work and live as free black scholars. We have to challenge the South African university in its current form because it continues to peddle white, colonialist, capitalist heteropatriarchal knowledge. If we make this our individual and collective programme, to effect a radical antiracialst, decolonial, anticapitalist, gender-critical and queer structures, only then shall will be more than simply blacks for hire or researchers for money.

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