Racism and racial prejudice have been plagues which have hindered the growth of human society
and the human spirit for thousands of years. The ways people have acted and reacted to these
racial injustices however, has varied. Numerous events of political racism have taken place in the
past, including enslavement of Africans by the Romans, black slavery in America, the
mistreatment of aboriginals in various countries, European colonialism in the late nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries, and countless others. Recently, however, this kind of racism has died
down. In the past century, organized, political racism has given way to a more subtle, individual
form of racism. Recent events wh ...view middle of the document...
Resistance groups were seen as communists and traitors and were thrown in jail or sentenced to
What makes apartheid so intriguing is the fact that, unlike most events of racial oppression, the
minority is oppressing the majority. The white population was vastly outnumbered by the blacks,
but the whites were able to keep control of the countries' economy and politics. In 1978, South
African blacks made up about eighty percent of the nation's population but only owned thirteen
percent of the land and contained a share of under twenty percent of the national income. Health
and education were two other areas which black oppression was obvious and tragic. There were
over 11 000 white doctors and under 500 black doctors in South Africa in 1978. This was the
main reason that the black infant mortality rate was as high as forty percent in rural South Africa.
The reason for the lack of doctors in South Africa was the lack of attention given to the
education of blacks. A measly $40 was spent per year per black South African student, while
almost $700 was spent on each white student annually. (source: www-cs-students.stanford.edu) It
is not difficult to name instances of racial oppression, but it is extremely difficult to name any
other instance where a minority group of a country has such a firm grip on the ethnic majority.
This is what makes South African apartheid so astounding and tragic.
The struggle against apartheid was won in the early 1990's because of international pressure on
South Africa and because of black resistance to the oppression. In 1964, Nelson Mandela, the
popular leader of the African National Congress, an organization to combat apartheid, was
sentenced to life in prison for attempting to overthrow the South African government. Over the
next 27 years, Mandela became a worldwide symbol of oppressed peoples. During Mandela's
incarceration, the United Nations created a special committee against apartheid, the International
Olympic Committee banned South Africa from participation in the Olympic games, and the
apartheid system was vilified by the international media. The pressure became so strong that
Mandela was set free in 1991 and the abolishment of apartheid began shortly thereafter.
Although apartheid is no longer a political policy in South Africa, the existence of anti-black,
pro-apartheid groups is rampant and the enormous gap between the standard of living of blacks
and that of whites is still existent.
Since they began to emigrate as slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, African-
Americans have had to struggle for equal rights, both politically and socially, in their own
country. A major turning point in this struggle was the civil rights movement which occurred
between the 1950's and the 1970's. During this movement, blacks were integrated into white
One landmark event of this movement was the integration of blacks into white schools in the
southern United States. After the landmark Br...