I am white. I research in a small group of white academics. I go for dinner in restaurants full of white people. I visit white people in the suburbs where they live in compounds full of white people. And then I come home to my neighbourhood, where I am just about the only white person. I shop at a supermarket full of black people. I walk home through the streets surrounded by black people. I hang around in the evenings with my neighbours who are black people. On the face of it, this isn’t necessarily a problem; there is no reason why blacks and whites should have, or want, to mix all the time. But, unfortunately, this segregation is a result of a much deeper and nastier problem.
Inequality between blacks and whites in South Africa remains widespread and extreme. Although less than 10% of South Africa’s population is white, it is these white people who still have ownership over the vast majority of the country’s land and economy. White people are 10 times more likely to have a job than black people, and amongst all those who are working, white people tend to earn over five times more than black people. Access to good healthcare and education is difficult for most black South Africans too. As a result of this, their life expectancy is considerably lower that of whites, not helped by the fact that they are nearly 50 times more likely to be HIV-positive. While nearly 30% of white South Africans have studied in education beyond high school level, 22% of black South Africans have no schooling at all. Quality of living too is much worse for black people, with 20% having no access to running water (compared to only 0.6% for whites), and many having little or no access to electricity. Of course people think of whites as enjoying a God-like status, because, really, they do.