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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 6: A Colorless Rainbow: Nonracialism in the New South Africa


· 6 · a colorless rainbow Nonracialism in the New South Africa “It’s just such a shame,” said Sarah, a White teacher educator, after conduct- ing a workshop for teachers. “The disparities in South Africa are astounding,” she continued, “but that does not impact the teachers at township schools— they are just like schools everywhere. A good teacher can teach anywhere.” The conversation began after her workshop for teachers. Professional obser- vations were shared about engaging all participants after she asked for sugges- tions about facilitation in acknowledgment that several participants appeared disengaged. Sarah then raised a concern about what sort of teacher might come to a professional development and not be fully engaged, essentially questioning why these educators would waste her time. She openly assumed that every adult educator wanted to learn and grow as an educator and would take advantage, particularly because such opportunities were rare in South Africa’s educational context. Sarah mused that these disengaged teachers did not want to learn. The 30-minute conversation about the types of educators who disengage and what may cause such disengagement was intellectually draining. She was unwilling to consider the possibility that some educators might be profession- ally impacted by the long-term effects of teaching generally (such as expec- tations to teach a wide range of learning styles, shifting political contexts, 166 whiteness is the new south africa assessments, curricular battles, struggles with other professionals, job demands, etc.), much less teaching in impoverished schools with larger class sizes and fewer resources for lower...

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