As many of you know, I took a trip to Cape Town, South Africa in March, 2009. Â If you don’t know, South Africa was under a system of legalized racism calledÂ ApartheidÂ until 1994. Â Apartheid ended just 15 short years before my visit, and it was clear to me that the racism is still alive and well in South Africa ( I can only speak of Cape Town and its surrounding region, as this was the only metropolitan area I visited during my stay. Â Please see my previous post regarding my interactions which some of the citizens of South Africa here) Â I saw that darker colored people held very few client facing jobs (such as waiters, hostesses, cashiers, etc). Â I saw that coloured people drove nice cars, while most of the black people walked or took public transportation, I experienced hesitation to serve me in retail establishments until the shop keepers realized that I was not a local black or coloured person. Â I won’t even mention the German owned book store which featured writings by Adolf Hitler and other Nazi paraphernaliaÂ as its central store display. Â Imagine that the American Civil Rights Movement hadÂ ended just 15 years ago, and that would basically be the situation of post Apartheid South Africa today, with the exception that in South Africa a Black President was immediately elected (unlike here in the US), but that’s a topic to explore another day. Â Well I won’t go that far…I do think that South Africa has progressed much faster than the US, but I also think their system of racism was more complicated and restrictive than in America so they still have a long way to go, but so do we.
(FYI: Â If you don’t know there is a distinct difference in South Africa between blacks and coloureds. Â Black people are “100%” African, they can trace their heritage back to the tribe that their family is a part of. Â Coloureds are African people without a pure African heritage, if any of your ancestors were “other than African” you would likely be considered coloured, in other words coloureds are people of a mixed racial heritage fell in the coloured classification.)
Back to the point of this post. Â There is a movie showing now (November, 2009) which captures many of the feelings I left South Africa with. Â The movie is titled Skin. Â This movie is a true story about an Afrikaner couple (white/of European descent) who do not realize that a portion of the blood pumping through their veins is African (Black). Â As a result of their racially mixed background, some of their children are born appearing to be coloured. Â The movie follows the couple’s daughter through the struggles of not fitting in with any crowd, and the legal struggles she endures with her parents and children (during Apartheid it was illegal for whites and blacks or coloureds to live under the same roof). Â The movie explores the racism in a manner which I have never seen or imagined. Â I won’t give away too much of the movie, but I will say that it is a must see. Â The one disappointment I have is that the movie did not explore the parents’ emotions and thoughts after learning that they were both of African descent as well.
Please follow the link here or below and be sure to check it out when its near you. Â I am told that it will be released on DVD in 2010, possibly spring/summer. (photo from www.skinthemovie.net)