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Race and Racism in Post-apartheid South Africa
Paradise Lost. Race and Racism in Post-apartheid South Africa is about the continuing salience of race and persistence of racism in post-apartheid South Africa. The chapters in the volume illustrate the multiple ways in which race and racism are manifested and propose various strategies to confront racial inequality, racism and the power structure that underpins it, while exploring, how, through a renewed commitment to a non-racial society, apartheid racial categories can be put under erasure at exactly the time they are being reinforced.

Abstract

After close to three decades of democracy, South Africa cannot be expected to achieve what other countries took many years to accomplish. However, South Africa was supposed to learn from the pitfalls of the post-colonial states that emerged from colonialism. Regrettably, that was not the case. Instead, it followed the same trajectory of many post-colonial countries entangled in selfish interests and corruption. Western epistemologies shaped the South African democracy that was born in 1994. Today, apartheid, democracy and (de-)coloniality at the crossroad is a discourse informed by the ills of the past, such as white supremacy, white privileges, and white monopoly capital, which defines the privileged position whites continue to have and that they have inherited from centuries of colonialism and apartheid. The collapse of the apartheid government and the launch of the democratic government in 1994 achieved political freedom, but failed to achieve the benefits that would have derived from economic freedom for the previously oppressed majority. What was supposed to be a paradise became a paradise lost. This chapter calls for reversal of colonialism. A narrative analysis was employed to conceptualise and inform discussion on pertinent issues of apartheid, democracy and (de-)coloniality understood to be at the crossroads. The chapter proposes substantive equality and social justice, the de-colonisation of the mind through ubuntu as a pan African philosophical thought, reconciliation, national unity and economic freedom to bring about racial closure to achieve a non-racial society.

In: Paradise Lost
Author: Steven Gordon

Abstract

Xenophobia in modern South Africa is often depicted as a post-apartheid phenomenon, arising out of the challenges of the nation’s post-transition woes. Indeed, both the local and international press is quick to write off xenophobia as a mere product of the contemporary struggle over scarce resources. This was the position adopted by the African National Congress (ANC) at the party’s 50th Conference held at Mafikeng in December 1997. The ‘competition for scarce resources’ thesis adopted by the ANC’S 50th Conference will be evaluated in this chapter thesis. This examination will, in particular, draw on the work of Michael Neocosmos and David Matsinhe. This evaluation will use public opinion data from the South African Social Attitudes series for the period 2003-2018. By focusing on this timeframe, this chapter has sought to open a new lens into how we may understand attitudes towards international migrants in South Africa. The chapter will show that socio-economic status was not a good predictor of attitudes which is in keeping with a growing academic consensus on this question. Observed trends in anti-immigrant sentiment over the period 2003-2018 do not seem to be linked to changes in macro-economic conditions or to the recent growth of the foreign-born population. In addition, evidence will be provided that demonstrates that xenophobia in South Africa is correlated with interracial animosity. This finding is consistent with other ongoing work on intergroup relations and suggests the importance of understanding xenophobia as part of a greater problem of racism and racialisation in the country. It would appear that social fractures in South Africa may encourage attitudinal predispositions which promote fragmentation rather than cohesion. The chapter concludes by outlining the prospects for the future and what needs to be done to check xenophobia and bring about greater awareness to ensure a cohesive and tolerant society.

In: Paradise Lost
Author: Ashwin Desai

Abstract

Through 2021 the media were filled with stories of racism faced by Black South African cricketers they encountered by fellow White players. This chapter focusses on these exposés which in part were aired at The Social Justice and Nation-Building Hearings (SJN) held towards the tail-end of 2021. The chapter broadens the boundaries of the focus on race into looking at what some have called the coming of class apartheid. As the chapter shows, the majority of Black players representing the national team come from formerly White and private schools. While not discounting the challenges faced by Black players, both in these schools and in the national set-up, it shows how township school cricket has fallen way behind that of white and private schools. It shows startlingly how the fixation by the government and the cricket authorities on racial composition of national teams does little to redress the inequalities between formerly White and Black schools, and in fact could be accused of deepening divisions. In the last section of the chapter, the chapter proposes that the enduring partnership of race and class be simultaneously brought into focus as a way to progressively level the playing fields.

In: Paradise Lost

Abstract

South African universities are in turmoil. In 2016 the student movement known as #FeesMustFall closed 16 of South Africa’s 21 universities. Clarion calls for free higher education; decolonizing universities that perpetuate “apartheid culture” at the cost of an African intellectual project; and issues of domination emerged as students protested to bring these issues into the public discourse. At the heart of this narrative are two core themes: lack of inclusiveness in a democratic context vis-à-vis continued apartheid oppression in a post-apartheid South Africa under the banner of privilege. Both black and white students embrace a narrative of oppression in what is at a formal level, at least, a democratic state (Steyn Kotze and Prevost, 2017). It is in this context that this chapter seeks to deconstruct perceptions on whether university students believe that the ANC had indeed provided a better life and delivered on the promise of 1994, especially if we consider their narratives that facilitate a collective consciousness of inequality, exclusion and marginalisation as expressed in political narrative of #feesmustfall. This chapter presents findings from an empirical survey conducted at six South African universities. This project assesses values and perceptions of socio-political life of South Africa’s first post-apartheid generation on the value of voting, foundations of political support, views of race relations, key policy issues, and views on whether their quality of life had improved. The chapter presents the findings of the results on questions on whether students believe their quality of life and that of their families had improved through a frame of political cognition that underpin #feesmust-fall.

In: Paradise Lost

Abstract

This concluding chapter draws together the various key issues dealt with in the chapters in the volume, Paradise Lost: Race and Racism in post-apartheid South Africa, and outlines the key linkages between these chapters: the various strategies the authors of these chapters devise to deal with racial inequality and the racial power structure, racism in the various ways it is manifested, persisting racial identities, and/or how to bring about a non-racial society in South Africa. Included here are the various ways in which the authors illustrate the continuing salience of race and persistence of racism in post-apartheid South Africa, and the irrelevance of race in ways that can contribute to its erasure. The emphasis in the conclusion is the various ways in which post-apartheid South Africa retains some of the privileges of apartheid for a few, as well as some elements of the non-racial paradise for all. It emphasises that it is only by dealing with the former decisively and totally that the latter can be attained, and race and racism ultimately erased. The authors of this chapter conclude that this is only possible if a decoloniality project is embarked upon in earnest.

In: Paradise Lost

Abstract

For the average black African, coloured and Indian person in South Africa, the experience of apartheid was defined by racial discrimination - an inequity that was felt in almost every facet of life. The post-apartheid regime promised an end to widespread racial discrimination. New policies of social cohesion, redress and transformation were meant to deliver on this promise. However, twenty-seven years into the post-apartheid era, the news media is awash with stories of ordinary South Africans’ experiences of racial discrimination. The modern post-apartheid media’s appetite for such stories begs important questions about the levels of self-reported racial discrimination in the country and how these levels have changed in the contemporary period. Moreover, continuing prejudice of this kind suggests problems with the government’s existing framework of anti-discrimination and redress legislation. This chapter examines patterns of reported discrimination by population group and how these patterns have changed over time. Data from the nationally representative South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS) for the period 2003-2016 is be used. The chapter investigates both personal and collective experiences of racial discrimination, providing important insights into the practice of modern racism. Looking at the claims of the country’s four major population groups, the chapter reflects on feelings of racial marginalisation and the expectations of the post-apartheid period. With reference to the outcomes of the quantitative analysis, the chapter then critically considers existing policies of transformation and social cohesion. The chapter concludes by reflecting on proposed mechanisms to reduce discrimination with a special focus on the upcoming hate crime legislation.

In: Paradise Lost

Abstract

With a Gini coefficient of 0.68 for income and 0.95 for wealth distribution, South Africa remains one of the most economically unequal societies in the world. This inequality, rooted in colonial dispossession and racial exploitation, still runs primarily along the racial divide. Policy initiatives taken to redress those economic injustices through the black economic empowerment (BEE) have however failed to bring economic empowerment to the formerly dispossessed. Ideologically situated in the same economic paradigm that created this racial inequality it purports to reverse, the implementation of BEE policy has merely resulted in the co-optation of a small black elite into the wealthy white capitalist elite of the apartheid-era. This study uses the twin lenses of epistemic violence and racial capitalism to shed light on the reasons for the failure of the BEE policies to bring about the economic empowerment it was intended to achieve.

In: Paradise Lost

Abstract

South Africa’s Constitution (1996) ushered in a new era for all previously disadvantaged groups and particularly women who were oppressed relative to men of their own race under apartheid. The end of apartheid (1994) and the liberal Constitution (1996) resulted in the end of institutionalised racism. While the debates on racism abound, there is limited scholarship on how gender, race, and inequality interlock in the lives of African women. This postulates that racism persists alongside sexism and results in unequal outcomes for women. The chapter argues that differences are key to explicating women’s experience of racism, sexism, and inequality in post-apartheid South Africa. This chapter analyses trends in public data by race and gender to unravel the how positionality of women entrenches various forms of inequality. Given the complexity of the South African context, the levels of denialism regarding the significance of race and the deepening silence around the question of women’s emancipation in post-apartheid South Africa, this chapter employs feminist politics and theory to explore how gender and race intersect to shape the women’s experience of inequality. We argue that, despite the abundance of evidence regarding the entrenchment of institutional cultures and practices that privilege or disadvantage certain groups of women, little has been done to address the anomaly. The lack of political will to deal with structures and cultures of oppression society. The contribution of this chapter lies in re-igniting the debates regarding the place of women in post-apartheid South Africa. Although policies have drawn women into spaces from which they were previously excluded, more is required to tackle structural sexism and racism, if gendered inequalities are to be reduced.

In: Paradise Lost

Abstract

Apartheid South Africa presented to racist forces the world over a significant model and resource for ideas, ideology, inspiration and leadership. For such racist forces, it provided a model for social organisation in which the different South African race groups - whites, black Africans, Indians and so-called ‘coloureds’ - would exercise their political rights in separate institutions and geographic spaces, experience social life separately in racially-defined spaces, be educated in separate institutions, engage in certain economic activities in racially-defined areas, etc. It was a model for the establishment of a paradise for one race group in a society with several race groups that, if it gained international acceptance, could possibly have led to its application in similar societies elsewhere. The anti-apartheid struggle, however, envisaged a model in complete contrast with apartheid, one too that promised paradise in a multi-racial society. The introduction explores the concepts of race and racism, as well as introduces some of the key elements of the apartheid ‘paradise’, post-apartheid South Africa and the non-racial ‘paradise’ envisaged by the South African liberation movements. Utilising relevant secondary literature on apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa, the chapter explores key elements of these periods and the envisaged non-racial society. This is followed by brief descriptions of each chapter in the book, with an emphasis on the core objective which draws the chapters in the volume together: dealing with race in order to demonstrate its irrelevance and ultimately bring about its erasure.

In: Paradise Lost