Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Black Consciousness

I was talking to an academic at UKZN recently - it was an informal discussion about the possibility of my doing a doctorate there next year. As we were talking and I mentioned black consciousness he said, 'Don't waste your time on black consciousness, leave that out. It will soon be a thing of the past.' That puzzled me because it seems to be very much a thing of now. But then reading more of 'Christ Divided' (see a previous post) I eventually came to understand that the idea of black consciousness movements and black separation is not a desire for 'separate development' but a desire for black people to overcome the sense of inferiority that they feel amongst white people. Ok, so I've heard this before, but it registered more clearly with me now. And so the people who I know who are keen to work at being people together in this country, regardless of race, are new generation people who operate without any sense of inferiority at all. But there are others (mostly older people) who haven't made that transition yet. In this sense, black consciousness should die. What may arise in its place is black supremacy or simply organisations that exist because people in them enjoy the power that they have there.
Got to go to a meeting . . . so forgive the not quite complete thoughts!


Herman Groenewald said...

Very interesting viewpoint and the transitive change in outlook of “Black Consciousness”. It is worth noting its origins as described below.
"Black Consciousness origins were deeply rooted in Christianity. In 1966, the Anglican Church under the incumbent, Archbishop Robert Selby Taylor, convened a meeting which later on led to the foundation of the University Christian Movement (UCM). This was to become the vehicle for Black Consciousness.”

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Yes, although churches felt the need to later disassociate themselves from the UCM because it seemed to lose the Christian focus!
Nonetheless, I do believe that the church allowed black leaders to develop and be empowered and were also in other ways integral to the black consciousness movement.

Steve Hayes said...

Black consciousness was always a movement of the intellectual elite, and you can see how popular it was in the results of the 1994 General Election, when the PAC and Azapo between them got less than 2% of the vote. The PAC was a party of fuddy-duddy has-beens, stuck in the 1960s, which is why Patricia de Lille broke away to form the Independent Democrats.