Over at Inside Higher Education, Ben Eisen has an interesting interviewwith Professor Jonathan D. Jansen, a South African who after the end of apartheid became the first black dean of education at South Africa’s very racially conservative University of Pretoria.
In his interview with Eisen, Professor Jansen talks about living between two racial cultures and compares the USA to the USA:
Universities in South Africa and the USA were formed in very similar circumstances where racial formation played crucial roles in knowledge production as well as in patterns of racial socialization and racial segregation. The book produced by Spelman’s president, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? … resonates with the South African experience; and I believe Knowledge in the Blood reflects some of the same tensions and struggles in the USA. The big difference, of course, is that blacks hold power in the Republic of South Africa while blacks remain a minority in the USA, and this has implications for the transformation of these patterns of racial division.
The product description of Jansen’s new book, Knowledge in the Blood, is very interesting and suggests other direct parallels between whites, including white youth, in both countries:
This book tells the story of white South African students—how they remember and enact an Apartheid past they were never part of. How is it that young Afrikaners, born at the time of Mandela’s release from prison, hold firm views about a past they never lived, rigid ideas about black people, and fatalistic thoughts about the future? … Jansen offers an intimate look at the effects of social and political change after Apartheid as white students first experience learning and living alongside black students. He reveals the novel role pedagogical interventions played in confronting the past, as well as critical theory’s limits in dealing with conflict in a world where formerly clear-cut notions of victims and perpetrators are blurred.
So, many white youth “hold firm views about a past they never lived, rigid ideas about black people.” Sounds like the other USA?