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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 4: Systemic Disparities, Differential Realities: School Principals on South African Education


· 4 · systemic disparities, differential realities School Principals on South African Education On a day scheduled to be spent with Mrs. Mabizela at Thandokazi Primary School, the lead researcher encountered the first of several township flood- ing experiences. At 8:30 a.m., after a meeting with the principal, tea with two teachers, and joining in a third teacher’s classroom to welcome learners, a flood occurred. Within 15 minutes, the classroom was crammed with 11- and 12-year-olds—children sitting on each other’s laps, probably 50 bodies in all—and 35 desks and 4 tables, all in a room with three broken windows and a 2-foot gap between the floor and the walls. School officials explained that the community surrounding the school sits on a flood plain, another example of the long-term impacts of apartheid policy. The apartheid government did not want or need this regularly flooded, sandy land, and thus in the 1970s, the Black community in Cape Town was relocated to this current lowland loca- tion; this particular school sits at the lowest elevation. The issues with this topography became more pronounced as the wind picked up about an hour into the school day, and the soft rain turned to torrential downpour. After an hour of tropical rain, the leak buckets began to overflow more quickly than children could dump them, and muddy water began rushing in from all four sides of the classroom. Without warning, the water was ankle-deep. The children were clearly accustomed to this routine and rapidly launched...

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