I’ve sort of come to think of South Africa as super-America. All of the problems the states suffers from are here, but turned up to 11. We’ve got income inequality, they’ve got extreme income inequality. We’ve got historical racism, they’ve got profound historical racism. We’ve got high crime, they’ve got bonkers high crime. There’s a lot both countries could learn from each other.
Americans, for example, tend not to see the structural components of racism. It’s easy for us to say ‘that black dude is poor because he didn’t finish high school, go to college and get a job. It’s his fault.’
It’s a lot harder for an American to say that about a black South African, whose family was so profoundly disadvantaged by Apartheid (dude, your race was part of your social security number) that he can’t be expected to make up the gap in one generation.
The situation is actually the same in America, we just don’t see it because the magnitude isn’t as profound. Just as black South Africans weren’t instantly transported out of the townships when Apartheid ended, black Americans weren’t magically moved to Connecticut when segregation ended.
We have more time between us and segregation than South Africa does, but that doesn’t mean we’re not still swimming in its wake.