Racial Discrimination: How it Affects the People of South Africa and Its Impact on the Field of Social Work
Racial discrimination has for long been a part of the South African history. It is the country of Apartheid. Apartheid was the official policy of racial segregation implemented legally in South Africa by the ruling National Party governments from 1948 till 1994. Under the apartheid legislation, the rights of the non-white inhabitants were curtailed politically, economically, legally and socially. The white supremacy and African minority rule was in place. This meant that white people were considered superior to people of all other racial backgrounds. And that white people would get superiority having priority housing, jobs, education, and political power. Whites and nonwhites held different jobs, lived in different regions, and were subject to different levels of pay, education, and health care. The non-white population was forced out of their homes and jobs in the urban areas to rural areas.
These rural areas where the black South Africans were banished to were called "Bantustans." These rural areas were often located along with fringes of the cities, which consisted of massive slums with terrible living conditions. The black South African population was not even allowed to participate in the government. There were curfew laws applicable to them along with being subjected to carry passes if they wanted to travel outside their designed rural areas. Apartheid not only separated whites from non-whites, but also different races living across South Africa. It disbarred Africans (black people) from fraternizing with Asians and Europeans as well. The period of Apartheid cruelty came to an end in mid-1990's. Since that time, social workers from across the globe have poached South Africa in order to settle the dust after the burial of Apartheid. There is a fair amount of bitterness left in the hearts of white as well as non-white people in South Africa over the topic. Social workers have committed remove the after effects of the Apartheid from all the races that inhibit South Africa. The white folk, who still have the slight sense of supremacy left in their hearts and the black population, suffer from the psychological and other consequences of the century long discriminatory behavior toward them.
In order to counter this, the Black Perspective has been developed. It started out in the 1970's as a social program that encourages and celebrates the lives of black Africans. The program calls for sensitivity to the experiences of all oppressed and underserved groups and embraces an international dimension with special emphasis on Africa as well as the Caribbean. There are six principles involved in the program, (Affirmation, Strengths, Diversity, Vivification, Social Justice and Internationalization) that work toward the promotion of equality, strength, an understanding of oppression and celebration of the black African population.
Apartheid prevailed in South Africa for forty-six years. It was abolished in 1994, through rigorous struggle and the efforts of Nelson Mandela. I chose this topic because of the long road toward the abolishment undertaken by the black South African population and the sacrifices and injustice that they had to face in order to achieve it. The efforts are worth debating upon.
A major part of apartheid was the mineral revolution that was stemmed by the discovery of gold and diamond in the Republic of South Africa. Paul Maylam writes in his book South Africa's Racial Past: The History and Historiography of Racism, Segregation and Apartheid, that it was the mineral revolution of the mid-nineteenth that was the foundation of the modern apartheid era. During the mineral revolution, which was basically the discovery of diamond deposits just below the surface of the earth in the South African soil led to a great deal of migrants moving into the country to extract them. The invasion of such immigrants led to the local population of black South African members of the population being subjected to racial discrimination by white supremacists (Maylam, 2001).
The members of the black population working in the diamond and gold mines were treated like slaves, made to work at minimal wage (Allanson, Atkins, & Hinks, 2002) with poor working conditions (Johnstone, 1976). But it was the mineral revolution that produced immense economic transformation for the black population of South Africa in terms of discriminatory behavior. It produced the first large-scale oscillation of migrant labor, the job color bar, and the modern system of pass controls on labor, all of which remained entrenched in South Africa for almost a century. Over the century as the industrialization of South Africa progressed, along with it did the increased racial segregation.
The South African government used racial classification and stratification as a tool in its official policies to control its population (Zuberi & Khalfani, 2001). The Population Register Act of 1950 set out the method of census in the apartheid era, whereby the population was classified in the national register on the basis of race. The social injustice of such government peaked as high as there were placements of ban over black South Africans from having legal martial or sexual relationships with other races and tribes other than their own (McLeod, 2013). This provision was set out in The Prohibition on Mixed Marriages Act (1949).
The Act questioned the legality of all inter-racial marriages, and mostly deemed them illegal. Such official policies had after effects that outlasted the apartheid period. The Separate Amenities Act of 1953 which prohibited people of color from sharing public amenities such as restrooms, cinemas, restaurants, hospitals, schools, and more with whites (Pieterse, 2004). Pieterse is of the opinion that constitutionalization and concomitant judicial enforcement of social rights as an avenue through which such rights were snatched domestically. Today, the consequences of the acts of injustice carried out during the apartheid period are visible in the community. Most of the remaining effect however, is psychological in the minds of the black population that was raised or lived through the apartheid period.
It was a result of a research program that indicated that racial discrimination during the apartheid period lead to a variety of mental disorders in a given representative sample of the adult population of South Africa (Moomal, et al., 2009). These disorders include not only substance abuse in those discriminated against, but also anxiety and other mood disorders. The population that was subjected to acute and chronic discrimination often suffered from perceived discrimination disorder as an aftermath for over years (Burns & Van der Merwe, 2008). In modern day South Africa, there have been efforts put up in order to obliterate the effects of the apartheid in the black population. Some of the basic necessities that are being concentrated on are the education, employment and equality for black South Africans. Education for the black population had been contested since late nineteenth century (Keswell). It is now the backbone of all socialist movements being held in order to reinvigorate the black population in South Africa as well as all over the globe today. Another aspect of this is employment for the black population and on what levels of hierarchy in the corporate world is the black population being employed in and at what status is being given to them (Leonard & Grobler, 1996).
Racial discrimination since the advent of the Apartheid era all across the country of South Africa has had severe consequences for the native people of African descent. In modern times, Apartheid unquestionably can be considered as one of the most degrading systems of the human society. The basic idea of the Apartheid was to create imbalance between people of all races in the society based on their skin color using a legal mode of application. In South Africa, the government introduced Apartheid as a system of institutionalized discrimination and segregation on the grounds of race and skin color in the late 1940s.
In the initial stages of this system in South Africa, the state began by amending small laws that allowed the provision of equality amongst the white people and the black people. One of the very first of these was the introduction of the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act in 1949. This created outrage amongst the black members of the society as it enforced a ban upon people of different races to get involved in a marital relationship with the white people. This was followed by another act, namely the Immorality Amendment Act of 1950, which was a bigger step in creating a barrier amongst the white people and people of other races. This act forbade black people from getting immorally involved with white people by having inter-racial sexual intercourses and other non-decent acts. These steps began to build a wall between the white people and the black people by developing a sense of superiority in the minds of the white people. The white people began to isolate the black people and regarded them equivalent to having no rights in the society.
Gradual changes in the laws as time passed began to restrict the involvement of…