The concept of race is both broad and ambiguous it is therefore beneficial to begin with a definition, according to Heywood race refers to physical or genetic differences amongst humankind that supposedly distinguish one group of people from another on biological grounds. The term is, however, controversial, both scientifically and politically (2002: 194). It is these differences in race that have led to prejudices and discrimination in South Africa – racism. The following paragraphs aim to explain how the concept of "race" is used in the different articles.
The article by Professor Amanda Gouws makes an important differentiation between structural racism and attitudinal racism. Structural racism in South Africa was established through Apartheid policies and laws, such as job reservation, Bantu Education, pass laws and the Group Areas Act. Today structural racism is unconstitutional and radical measures have been taken to abolish all forms of it. Yet its legacy lives on, because through the implementation of structural racism attitudinal racism was born.
Attitudinal racism is the way a person sees fit to view, judge and treat a person based on their race. According to Prof. Gouws "Strukturele rassisme het houdingsrassisme bevoder met as sy aanverwante stereotipes en voordele van swart mense wat minderwaardig en onmenswaardig is" (2003). Attitudinal racism is a lot more difficult to extinguish. Entrenched in the minds of all South Africans are differences: social, economic, educational differences – drawn along racial lines which have given birth to prejudices.
Differences no longer politically correct to acknowledge, but differences that subconsciously justify attitudinal racism. However, unless we are able to acknowledge and embrace these differences, it seems impossible to banish attitudinal racism, for unless an issue is acknowledged it can never be solved. According to Clarke it seems that as white South Africans are called upon to become conscious of the effects that apartheid has wrought on us – and on black South Africans – we become overwhelmed by defensiveness and denial – "We just want to get on with it", "Apartheid is over, let bygones be bygones.
" This leaves those who need their hurts, aspirations and experiences of injustice to be heard feeling frustrated and angry (2003). White people have taken up the attitude "om die slaagoffer te blameer (swart straatkinders is die gevolge van ouers wat lui is om te werk), om kontak met die ander rasse te vermy of om verskille te ontken (ons het 'n demokrasie – ons is almal dieselfde) (Gouws, 2003). This lack of acknowledgement is the basis of attitudinal racism. However attitudinal racism is not only present in white South Africans as shown by our own president.
In 1997, the Hon John McIntosh preformed one of the boldest protests ever undertaken by an elected representative in South Africa, before or since. He went on an eight day hunger strike, starving himself for the same amount of time that Black conscious leader Steve Biko had been in police hands – proving that Biko could not have died from starvation. The Hon McIntosh remains committed to the democratic cause. Yet the ANC swore in John Gogotya MP, a black politician who took money from the apartheid Department of Military Intelligence to go to the US to denounce the cause of black majority rule (Leon, 2003).
Attitudinal racism has led to the re-emergence of structural racism. President Mbeki has again and again used race to deflect legitimate criticism and developed a technique labelled "flaming" to attack his critics and silence dissent (Leon, 2003). These damaging circumstances have occurred because attitudinal racism has not been seriously enough pursued and simply swept under the mat and left to fester. Racism is something South Africa has fought so hard to legally be free of, but it is now our own personal demons that have been neglected in this liberation struggle.
Attitudinal racism lacks visible structures to fight against; the battle resides within each of us. Without visible evidence it is easier to pretend attitudinal racism does not exist than to face our own moral standpoints. Perhaps this is what makes it even more lethal. One form of racism alone is always damaging, but as we have seen, one form, uncontested leads to other forms. The structural racism of apartheid led to attitudinal racism and it is this undealt with attitudinal racism that threatens South Africa and has already begun to breed structural racism once again.