TALKING POINT | I found my white Afrikaner identity by studying history

Bullied as a child, Lindie Koorts clings to her identity more firmly than ever, calling it an act of resistance

29 October 2020 - 20:42 By Lindie Koorts

Is the official use of apartheid-era racial categories a human rights violation? As the SA Human Rights Commission grapples with the question, Sunday Times Daily explores different views on the race row involving Western Cape teacher Glen Snyman, of Oudtshoorn, who faced disciplinary action and was charged with fraud by the Western Cape education department after identifying himself as “African” instead of “coloured” in a job application. This is the third in a series of four features. Read Ebrahim Harvey’s and Marlene le Roux’s here.

Race, identity: I cannot remember a time in SA’s history when these were not at issue. It veers between simplistic attempts at imposing racial categories to convoluted debates about intersectionality. And between those simplistic racial categories and the complexity of identity lies a tension. Because identity is always in flux and it does not allow itself to be pinned down.

On the face of it, I should not be one to grapple with identity. I am an educated, white, heterosexual, suburban, middle-class woman. That entire description screams comfort and in many respects it is true – until there is a component of one’s identity that is tested. I never realised, for example, how much of a determinant my gender is and how much I need feminism, until I became a mother relatively late in life. Being thrown into the never-ending battle between answering to the demands of one’s profession, while caring for the needs of another human being, and feeling as if I’m competing in a three-legged sack race, while everyone else is doing the 100m sprint, brought home the reality that the playing field is anything but level. This, however, is only my more recent battle with an aspect of my identity. That other component of my identity, the one wherein I am an Afrikaner and, in particular, an Afrikaner historian who writes about Afrikaners, has been tested and challenged for nearly 25 years...

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