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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 5: Can Umlungu (A White Person) Save Us?: Outside-In Education in the New South Africa


· 5 · can umlungu (a white person) save us? Outside-In Education in the New South Africa Thandiswa Soma is a student engagement officer at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Thandiswa is a multiracial Coloured and Xhosa educator identi- fied publicly as a youth activist; she is particularly committed to ensuring elite UCT students remember and give back to their communities. Her way of con- ceptualizing “giving back” involves volunteering through community-based organizations. Thandiswa extended to the lead researcher an invitation to the annual volunteer fair that she organized to start each academic year. The fair was held in a dining area, and students came between classes or during their lunchtimes to eat and meet with representatives of upwards of 20 community- based organizations. Tables were spread throughout the dining area, repre- senting a huge array of organizations focused on feeding schemes, housing, clothing, tutoring, and HIV education. However, the differences among orga- nizational resource levels became immediately clear. Two particular organizations had tables next to each other. Everyone enter- ing the room had to squeeze by the first table. This organization had extensive recruitment materials—pens, plastic cups, and notepads emblazoned with the organization’s logo—that were given away to anyone who approached. They had full boxes of additional materials stuffed under the table. A huge banner hung in front of the table, neatly hiding the boxes from view, and another banner was on the wall above the table proclaiming “Justice through Volunteering.” Two 122 whiteness is the new south...

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