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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 3: Liphi Igumbi Langasese (Where is the Toilet?): Documenting Racial Disparities in Schools


· 3 · liphi igumbi langasese (where is the toilet?) Documenting Racial Disparities in Schools A pernicious pattern of racial disparity exists in post-apartheid South African schools. Two observations dominate the data—(1) disparities by learner racial population consistently appear despite economic considerations, and (2) dis- parities in school conditions are regularly unreported or underreported. It is not possible to confirm whether or not these patterns are a systemic byproduct of a previously intentionally racist educational infrastructure or an intentional effort to continue to disadvantage Black and Coloured communities. Notwith- standing this, this chapter demonstrates the vast racial disparities that shape the schools in this study, and the larger context of underreporting inequal- ity that minimizes South African educational disparities. Data emerged from school visits, observations, counting of learners, desks, and classrooms, and comparisons of such physical counts with records from individual school-gen- erated ledgers, Western Cape Education Department (WCED)–provided reports, and additional educational websites and research reports. Stark differ- ences were present in each school visit, within every report, and in discussions with school principals, teachers, learners, and local adult residents. What was equally consistent was the underreporting of these disparities and often out- right denials (at least in terms of extent) by WCED administrators and many educators who teach in or lead the nation’s most privileged schools. 58 whiteness is the new south africa The Lies People Tell: When the Government Underreports Inequality Official statistics reflect what even the most casual observers will see: Schools that enroll large numbers...

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