/Whiteness, social justice and student debt – Thuli Madonsela has tea with Helen Zille

Whiteness, social justice and student debt – Thuli Madonsela has tea with Helen Zille

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela says she disagrees with the narrative that states “whiteness must fall”, telling former DA leader Helen Zille she prefers the narrative “white supremacy must fall” in the latest podcast of Tea with Helen.

In the latest installment of the podcast, Zille and Madonsela touched on a range of topics that included corruption, land and social justice, with the latter topic evoking conversation around white supremacy as well as “whiteness” in general and toxic masculinity.

Zille told Madonsela, during their hour-long conversation, that there existed a belief that “some groups [of people] are oppressed and marginalised because of the historical dominance of white males and therefore … the narrative that ‘whiteness’ was the problem became the dominant belief”.

“It is not open to discussion and becomes the truth, which excludes other ideas that look at multicausal effects to exclusion,” Zille argued.

Madonsela said she disagreed with the approach that “whiteness must fall”.

“I believe that white supremacy must fall because whiteness is God-given. In any group, you cannot say the whole group is poisoned.”

She compared it to the recent #MenAreTrash conversation, which reared its head again in public discourse and social media following the tragic deaths of Uyinene Mrwetyana, Jesse Hess, and other young women last month.

“Even with it, I say not all men are trash,” Madonsela said.

‘Toxic masculinity’, student debt

On toxic masculinity, although not defining it, she reasoned that it could be a determining factor when assessing social justice ills.

“The world is distorted because of the devaluing of certain people. Patriarchy has been at the core of devaluing people.”

Madonsela, before “sipping tea”, concluded by speaking about how she felt her generation had “failed to level the playing fields” at universities.

She bemoaned higher education issues such as student and historical debt.

“Why do we have a society where people can be at university and fall through the cracks purely because of poverty?

“Education is a major determinant of poverty,” Madonsela told Zille.

She said that, before the end of the year, she was planning on climbing the Drakensberg to raise funds that dealt specifically with the historical debt that students were burdened with.

Watch to the full podcast here:

– Compiled by Kamva Somdyala