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Whiteness Is the New South Africa

Qualitative Research on Post-Apartheid Racism


Christopher B. Knaus and M. Christopher Brown II

In 1994, the world joined South Africa in celebration of the results of its first democratic election. The results, emblazoned on the world’s memory with President Nelson Mandela waving to a multiracial crowd, signified the end of apartheid and an emerging new era of hope. However, Mandela’s recent death has given birth to a more critical view of his «Rainbow Nation.» No matter how examined, education in South Africa remains steadfastly unequal, with many White children retaining the educational privileges inherent to apartheid. White children in South Africa overwhelmingly attend wealthy, fully resourced schools, while the vast majority of Black and Coloured children attend woefully underresourced schools.
Based upon three sets of studies in schools in and around Cape Town, Whiteness Is the New South Africa highlights drastic racial disparities, suggesting that educational apartheid continues unabated, potentially fostering future generations of impoverished Black and Coloured communities. This book suggests that South Africa remains committed to stifling the intellectual, emotional, and economic development of Black and Coloured youth, while simultaneously investing in White children.


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Chapter 1: Whiteness and the Hegemony of Apartheid in the Quest for Educational Equality


· 1 · whiteness and the hegemony of apartheid in the quest for educational equality In 2011, Nell Irvin Painter of Princeton University released a seminal tome, The History of White People. The volume documents the social and legal con- struction of a group identity for humans with pale (or melanin-deficient) skin, from Greek and Roman antiquity to the present. Clarifying the vari- ous “white races,” Painter details the eighteenth-century invention of Cau- casians, Anglo-Saxons, and other Northern Europeans as a collective white race imbued with a shared history of skin color. Early “scientific” theories ascribed to each race a particular set of traits. Carolus Linnaeus proposed four races—Africanus (black, impassive, lazy), Americanus (red, ill-tempered, subjugated), Asiatic (yellow, melancholy, greedy), and Europeanus (white, gentle, inventive). In sum, the white skin color was deemed superior to all other complexions, even those of peoples who shared parallel or intersected histories in the face of shared geographic, civic, or social realities. Bederman (1995) argues that the division between the races is an ideologi- cal juxtaposition of the various interpretations of civilization. The seeming polar positions on human existence that emerged during the 1700s and 1800s depict civilizations in a universal template that racialized all human beings in a man- ner that ascribes to each roles and possibilities based solely on skin color. The connotations of race construct images of the vestiges of “white-skin” superiority 10 whiteness is the new south africa and racial hatred that existed for non-White people across cities, countries, and continents....

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