Black women ‘have to work harder for recognition’

Black women continue to have to work extra hard for recognition even if they are just as qualified and experienced as their white female colleagues.

Professor Shirley Tate of Leeds Beckett University

This was the view of sociology professor at Leeds Beckett University, Shirley Tate, who delivered a lecture on wellbeing as a deracinated strategic goal in United Kingdom universities.

Tate delivered her paper yesterday which focused on “voiceability”, which refers to the act of speaking out against racism in universities as well as racist shaming.

Drawing on her own experiences as a black female academic, Tate said her paper was aimed at ultimately finding ways both personally and politically to end patriarchy and racism in institutions.

She was speaking at Nelson Mandela University’s south campus yesterday.

Deracination is the act of refusing to acknowledge that racism exists, which Tate said was prevalent in the UK.

“White academics live in a world where racism can be denied and black people can be shamed [for speaking out].

“This creates a space where black women cannot voice injury to feelings, the shame suffered from racism because this racism is deniable,” Tate said.

Tate said while it was difficult to speak on racial incidents, staff members had the option to write about it on their own platforms to address these matters.

“Black women in academia are being made redundant, sometimes when you act against racism you will end up unemployed or you will be made unemployable,” Tates said.

Black tax, Fees Must Fall and the possibility of a decolonised higher education system were some issues that took centre stage as students and university staff discussed Tate’s paper.

NMU sociology lecturer Dr Babalwa Magoqwana said she enjoyed the notions of voiceability brought forward by Tate’s paper.

“As a black female scholar, I can relate to the paper.

“Patriarchy is mentioned at the end of the paper even though Africa has conservative politics, and it’s something we are yet to deal with,” Magoqwana said.

“How do we voice feelings of being hurt in a patriarchal institution when you know that because of neo-liberal policies unemployment is waiting?”

For staff member Nancy Morkel, the possibility of an authentic decolonised higher education proved to be a burning issue.

“In a space where we are borrowing the name of an iconic liberation struggle leader, at the same time we are living here in a white supremacist system.

“The system excludes most of the people in this room. We are working under a leadership that all the way up to the top, the majority of individuals are white.

“What then is the genuine possibility of any authentic decolonisation?”


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