Today, a serious problem exists all over the world. Racial oppression takes place in the poorest and the richest countries, including America. Racial oppression is characterized by the majority, or the ruling race, imposing its beliefs, values, and laws on the minority, or the ruled race. In most areas, the ruling race is upper class whites that run the “system”, and have a disproportionate amount of power. In other areas, it may not be the white race, but it is still the race that is comprised of the majority, makes the laws, or has the most money. These are the keys to domination over the weaker minorities that don’t have the power to thrive under the majority’s system according to their own cultural beliefs, values, and laws.
One of the countries in which oppression is apparent is South Africa, a country that practices apartheid. “Drought”, a sort of parable written by Jan Rabie, addresses this very issue in a compelling way. A white man and a black man are working together in the midday sun on an arid plain. Not long after the white man instructs the black man to work outside because he has black skin and can stand the sun better. He tells the black guy that, “You are cursed…Long ago my God cursed you with darkness…we want to build houses and teach you blacks how to live in peace with us” (685-86), yet the house they are building is designed to separate them. The black man counters by pointing out that his “ancestors dipped their assegais in the blood of your forefathers and saw that it was red as blood” (686). He is linking himself to the white man by their blood, which of course is the same color regardless of the differing amounts of melanin in their skin and their different backgrounds. The white man responds by telling him, “It’s time you forgot the damned past” (686). The white man is imposing his own beliefs and traditions on the black man, and ordering him to forget his own.
Another work that deals with racial issues in South Africa is Mark Mathabane’s autobiographical essay, “I Leave South Africa”, in which Mark describes his first trip to America. Expecting the Promised Land, a country that tolerates all individuals, regardless of race, class, or cultural background, Mark is shocked when he speaks to the Black Muslim. The Muslim asks Mark for his African name and he responds with his “white” name, but the Muslim is not fooled. Mark writes, “I was startled by this. How did he know I had an African name? I hardly used it myself because it was an unwritten rule among black youths raised in the ghettos to deny their tribal identity and affiliation, and that denial applied especially to names” (786). He is also surprised when the Muslim encourages him to attend a black college. Mark thought that he was talking about a tribal school, apparently another tool used to segregate the races in South Africa.
It is important to note the Muslim’s perspective on integration in America. He believes that it is a way for...