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racism in south africa

ESTELLE CLINE from the UNION OF JEWISH WOMEN OF SOUTH AFRICA submitted the following report to the ICJW Executive in November 2012: 
 
With a legacy of racism dating back more than 300 years, unfortunately race will matter in South Africa long into the future. 
 
There has been heavy political pressure to “transform” various entities, such as universities and the judiciary, amongst others, as well as employment practices, to reflect the demographics of the country. Considerable progress has been made, but there still remains much to be done. 
 
Despite the deep divisions in our society, there are often stories that inspire and give hope.  One such story was related by Professor Jonathan Jansen, a brilliant educator and highly respected head of the University of the Free State.  When writing one of his weekly newspaper columns, he quoted from an email he had received from one of his black students: “Prof, I have great news.  The botany department is the most integrated department I have ever seen. We had an excursion from January 13 to 20 in the Hogsback mountains, and not once did I feel like we were black and white.” 
 
Another press article told the story of a 27-year-old black doctor who had stopped to assist a motorcycle accident victim who was surrounded by mostly white onlookers. She was treated extremely disrespectfully by both paramedics and bystanders, with no one believing that she is a doctor – the assumption being that she was only a nurse. She left the scene in anger but then came upon a quote by Martin Luther King which dissipated her anger and made her more determined than ever to help people. She could easily have allowed her anger to dominate, but instead chose to strengthen her desire to help people. A remarkable young women! 
 
Lucy Holborne of the Institute of Race Relations, said this incident reflected the lack of trust between different race groups. “Part of the lack of trust between race groups, in my view, comes from the fact that knowledge and understanding of each other is still lacking for many people…While at a formal level many areas of society have integrated, such as workplaces, …at a social level racial integration still seems to be quite patchy”, thus limiting understanding of different race groups, and resulting in “the potential for distrust and prejudice”.