As I mentioned in a previous post, I went to South Africa in February 2016. This was the first time that I went to a country that was predominantly black. However, there was an energy that I could feel as soon as I hit the streets of Johannesburg, and that was the feeling that apartheid was still alive and well.
For those who don’t know, apartheid was a system that made it illegal for blacks and whites to integrate. It was exactly like the Jim Crow South in that sense, but they took it even further. They separated black people into two categories: black and coloured.
Coloured people in South Africa are mixed race or light skinned black people that are treated slightly better than black people, but they are still being dominated by the white population. This also mirrors slavery in America where the house (light skinned) slaves were treated a little bit better than the field (dark skinned) slaves, but they were still slaves.
Even though it technically ended in 1991, it is still in the DNA of South Africa, but that’s enough of the history.
On my first night in Johannesburg, we visited a restaurant called Trumps (nothing to do with the pussy grabber-in-chief) and the first thing I noticed were that all of the servers were black. That might not sound strange but what made me think twice about it is the fact that the only white person who worked there was the manager.
Not only did I see this dynamic in restaurants, but also in hotels. If there was a white person who worked in a hotel, they were either the manager or they worked at the front desk.
When I arrived in Cape Town, I got a good look at how this apartheid system is still alive when it comes to lifestyles. I spent more time in this city than any other city in South Africa and I visited many shops, restaurants, etc. and I saw a lot of white people who were on vacation, but I did not see one white person working.
Even when it comes to housing, there are mansions in Cape Town that are worth the equivalent of over $1 million, but there are only white people living in them. The black people, on the other hand, are living in shanty towns (townships) with no running water or electricity.
There are black people living in townships all over South Africa, a but in Cape Town there is one township in particular where you can see a white suburb right in plain sight, which is insulting.
Just like in America where a lot of crimes are committed by those in poverty, it’s the same thing in South Africa. We were at the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town when a young guy came up to us asking for money. We didn’t have much cash with us so we couldn’t give him anything, but he said something that was so real.
He was telling us about his situation and he basically said that he didn’t want to have to rob a store to get money, he just wanted to eat. It was sad because non-black people are quick to assume that being black causes people to commit crimes, but anyone in a similar situation may get to a point where they feel that they don’t have any other options in order to survive.
It was an emotional experience to see black people in another part of the world going through the same thing that we are going through in America. We have a long way to go to get the justice that we deserve, but it’s up to black people all over the world to come together and fight against these systems that continue to keep us down.