The following research question is to be answered: what was the South African apartheid, and how did it affect people of color in the 1980s?
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Introduction and Thesis Statement
The period of apartheid belongs to the most known examples of how ugly race-based prejudice can be if it forms the basis of domestic policies. The South African apartheid was a set of white supremacy and racial segregation policies in South Africa that started in 1948 and ceased to exist in 1994 (Clark & Worger, 2019). The historical period is associated with the National Party of South Africa – the organization that transformed oppression into a vector for political development after it acceded to power. During the period in question, the non-white majority of the South African population was officially denied many rights. It included contacting white citizens and engaging in mixed-race relationships, living outside of allowed areas, and expressing their civic position using voting.
People of color had to live under apartheid for more than forty years, which restricted their financial, educational, career development, and life opportunities to a great extent. However, the racial majority’s will to resist their oppressors was not low during the entire period, and institutionalized injustice eventually made South Africans ready for change. For this essay, I will use primary and secondary sources cited below to review the topic of apartheid and the way that it impacted black people in the 1980s. The essay will argue that the South African apartheid, neither more nor less than institutionalized discrimination against citizens of color, led to black people’s civil uprising and the resulting violence from the authorities in the 1980s.
Summary of Historical Context
Before the civil war of the 1980s, a range of discriminatory policies had been implemented by the National Party and supported by white citizens. Racial segregation in South Africa did not start only with the National Party’s ascension to power, but the global community recognized that problem only later, in the 1960s (UN General Assembly, 1961). In the 1910s, there were acts to restrict black politicians’ access to power and make it impossible for people of color to occupy well-paid jobs in the mining industry (Clark & Worger, 2019). Later, in the 1920s, citizens of African descent were required to live in segregated sections of cities and other populated localities (Clark & Worger, 2019).
People of color were punished for interracial sex or anything qualified as an incitement to hatred between racial groups, but those laws were never used against whites (Clark & Worger, 2019). The National Party’s involvement started the epoch of new racial hygiene policies. They ranged from the 1949 act to prohibit interracial marriages to the 1950 Group Areas law to further distinguish between the places to be inhabited by Africans and Europeans (Clark & Worger, 2019). All of those policies stoke the anti-European public sentiment and eventually led to massive civil disorders.
Context’s Impact on the Event
Apartheid policies had a severe influence on people of color in South Africa and significantly contributed to their willingness to initiate changes. Between 1985 and 1995, which was the last decade of apartheid, at least twenty thousand people in South Africa died as a result of political violence (Kaufman, 2017). As Bishop Tutu (1985) highlighted in his speeches, the white government’s desire to preserve all power and suppress uprisings resulted in multiple dreadful deaths, including accidental and intentional killings of white and black children. The last ten years of apartheid started as the period of school boycotts and industrial protests due to low quality of education and high job fatality rates among black miners (Tutu, 1985).
The National Party tried to put on a mask of concern and prevent greater losses by discussing opportunities for liberalization, but citizens of color just had no patience left (Tutu, 1985). Thus, discriminatory policies associated with the apartheid era led to major discontent among citizens of color and civil unrest and violence in the 1980s.
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Clark, N. L., & Worger, W. H. (2019). Apartheid forgotten and remembered. In W. H. Worger, C. Ambler, & N. Achebe (Eds.), A companion to African history (pp. 431-457). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Kaufman, S. J. (2017). South Africa’s civil war, 1985–1995. South African Journal of International Affairs, 24(4), 501–521. Web.
Tutu, D. (1985). The question of South Africa. Africa Report, 30, 5052. Web.