“The new form of apartheid is all about money!”. -Anonymous Educator
This statement is what I’ve experienced and observed in my short time in the Cape Town so far. Every where I have been, which has been very limited, there appears to be a definite clear divide between who goes where to eat, to shop, to learn, to socialize. The majority of the wait staff, or waitrons as they call them here, or store clerks for another example are black men and women. The patrons in all instances are white. I must say this has been the first time traveling anywhere in the world that I’ve had to pause to think about the context of the situation I have found myself in. It’s not that I have been made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome by anyone of any race here, but it was the realization that my economic standing as a middle-class American regardless of race has allowed me to enter places many black South Africans do not or cannot frequent because of the simple fact of the unequal economic distribution within this country.
When my colleague, and fast friend, Danielle and I ventured off to visit a few night spots along Long Street in downtown Cape Town, we soon found ourselves in the middle of what I equated with an “undergrad frat party” if you catch my drift. Again, the patrons were yelling along with Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer like it was their job and flapping their arms to the Village People’s YMCA. We both looked at each other with the “What are we doing here look?” while one overly friendly, or drunk, woman attempted to strike up conversations and to see our best dance moves. We made our ways to another place along the street a little more diverse. A little more comfortable.
I did not know what to expect in terms of race relations before traveling here in the wake of apartheid, but I am definitely seeing it still play out not so overtly as it previously was, but power, covertly, still very much seems to reside in the hands of the few with this “new” system of apartheid.
My thoughts are still formulating…