They say only he who wears the shoe knows where it hurts. This saying is remarkably true when it come to the topic of how the apartheid era affected the people in South Africa. In as much as apartheid ended a long 20 years ago, those 20 years seem like just yesterday to a lot of the black folks but to the white folks, it might as well be a century ago. This is why you hear phrases like “Get over it” or “Move on”. Because the white folk did not feel the pains of apartheid, it would be quite easy for them to feel that the issues about apartheid have been over-extended and that its past time to dismiss them and let people move on to other things.
It might not have been said in polite company but sometimes when white people talk in circles where they feel the black will not overhear, you’ll be quite appalled at how they feel and the things they have to say. Generally, people feel like race is not something that should be discussed quite so much, most of the time, we just want to ignore it and hope that it dies away but guess what, problems don’t go away just because you ignored them. The worst thing about race is that the more people pretend that it does not exist, the more its going to rear up and refuse to be ignored because in South Africa particularly, race is something that people have to deal with on a daily basis.
It is quite hilarious how most white South Africans believe (quite convincingly too) that their black counterparts have the same life opportunities as they do. This is really just not true. how can someone who has never felt the pain of rejection equate themselves with people who have had to live with it and struggle everyday to rise above it? Apartheid might have ended long ago, but the black people of South Africa still have to struggle with its aftermath so the least the white folks could do is not to pretend that race does not exist.
As much as we hope that we would one day come to a time when race no longer matters, for now, it does. So this is a list of the things white people enjoy that black people still don’t. These things may not apply to everyone but to a greater majority.
1. Self sufficient Parents: Most contemporary white folks have parents who got an inheritance from their parents so that even if they don’t have wealth to pass down, their children wont have to worry about sending money home from the little they make which is what most black folks have to deal with. It does not end with supporting your parents who went through a lot of pains to educate you, you equally get the honor of supporting your relatives too.
Don’t Miss: Why South Africans Are Not Expected To Live Long
2. Proper Childhood Development In The Right Environments: There’s a reason it’s so newsworthy when a black child from a poor background makes a huge success of themselves. The biggest odds they’ve had to overcome are largely invisible. Forget the physical disadvantages of living in a township or rural area.
Most if not all white South Africans have parents who were educated enough to know the importance of giving them healthy food, developing their motor skills as toddlers, and helping them read so that by age five they were already leagues ahead of their black peers from the township. This is an edge that gives them exponential returns as their education developed.
Ask experts on early childhood development and they’ll tell you that the advantages you were given before the age of five, before you had to do one iota of work, would have set the course of your life very favorably.
Don’t Miss These: Microaggression: Complements That Are Not So Complementary
3. Wealth Passed Down From Past Generations: Most white South Africans of today have parents whose grandparents had the right (Thanks to the preferential treatment of the apartheid) to buy properties and own businesses and as such, they amassed wealth in terms of properties and businesses that they could afford to pass down to their children and their children’s children. Now this passed down wealth will help them have a start whatever kind of life they want for themselves.
For the black South African however whose parents and grandparents did not have such grand opportunities, they have nothing passed down to them and as such, they have to struggle extra, extra, super, super hard to earn a decent living and make something out of their lives. For them, there is no such thing as a wealthy family to fall back on, you are either on your own two feet by yourself or on the ground with the rest of your family.
When a black guy says he’s broke, it usually means family debt, circling loan sharks and the horror of truly going under. When a white guy says he’s broke it usually means he may have to dip into his savings or swallow his pride and ask his parents for help.
4. Head-start In Finances: The majority of young white people in South Africa were lucky enough to get their first car from their parents, and their first degree almost fully paid for, if they were unable to get a bursary. The Black guys on the other hand have definitely had some pretty hairy experiences with the stress of trying to pay for their university degree.
You know, many white people believe those affirmative action policies are the most unjust, cruel things ever. But some black folks have had to work three part-time jobs at the university to cover some costs.
For many black South Africans the situation will be even worse. They won’t be able to make it to university, if they can get through school, and will need to immediately work to help the family.
This is not some random fact of life. It is a direct result of the economic policies of apartheid that left generation after generation destitute so that for the first few generations of black people trying to make it in post-apartheid South Africa it’s like running a race with lead weights on your feet – and that’s even with the small hand-me-up that various affirmative action policies and bursaries provide.
5. Social Capital: Passed down wealth does not stop at financial inheritance, it goes a step further to social resources that can be helpful in a way that money cannot. This could come in forms like rich and famous family friends, educated friends or extended family members in high and key positions in government or industries.
Social capital can be quite extensive and it mostly not something you earn, It could be amazing advice, mentorship, a hand-me-up when needed, the extra car from the parents, the cultured and mannered upbringing, the excellent clothes that set you apart at an interview etc.
6. The benefit of the doubt: White folks are given the benefit of the doubt as they are not expected to be violent, so that even when they are, there must be something behind it. They are given free access to everything and everywhere the black folks would not dare go. In the words of Verashni Pillay
“I wish every white person who thinks that race isn’t such a big issue and “we’re all just human” could walk around as a black person for a day in a predominantly white area.
You’ll have people cross the road to avoid you, or refuse to meet your eyes.
You’ll have employers assume you’re lazy, forcing you to work harder than your white peers to prove otherwise.
Restaurants and clubs may or may not give you good service but there’ll be a different awareness around your person, a bubble of air that will attract covert stares or animosity.
Or you’ll be insulted – deeply and personally – every time someone makes a joke about your name, where you’re from, your inability to swim, your love of chicken or any of the other casual, awful racism that gets dished out with a patronizing smile.
And you definitely won’t be waved through the boomed-off areas in the suburbs. The security guards manning those points reserve that treatment for those who don’t “look” like trouble”
A lot can be done to change some of these things but it’s definitely not by pretending that race does not exist. Like earlier mentioned, it is a given that the things listed above may not apply to everyone because the is always an exception but majority they say carries the vote.
Adapted From: mg.co.za