Being Racially Ambiguous in South Africa (Apartheid and Post-Apartheid)

Being Racially Ambiguous In South Africa (Apartheid And Post-Apartheid)

My opinion on my experiences regarding race and the implications of racial apartheid polices in South Africa.

Etereuti (Pixabay)

I was given a "White" ticket at the Apartheid museum, and, when walking through the segregated gates, I, for the first time, had the experience of "being White". As a person of color (POC) and Latino in the US, to be frank, I was used to being followed around in stores, being the only POC in classrooms, and enduring racist remarks. However, in Apartheid South Africa, where the races were divided between White, Coloured, Indian, and African/Black, I have little-to-no idea what I would fall under. I would not pass the hair test, nor brown paper bag test, but I am not African. According to Apartheid law, I would not be Coloured nor Indian, as I am neither of African nor Asian descent. Therefore, under the Population Registration Act of 1950, would I be classified as White? I am of European descent (Spanish), but the color of my skin begs to differ. If I were following the Immorality Act of 1927 and 1950, whom could I have relations with? Furthermore, under the Separate Representation of Voters Act of 1951, would I be barred from voting due to my skin color? Or would I be classified as "White" under Apartheid, and be allowed to vote? These questions remained unanswered as I researched Apartheid policies regarding race.

In Post-Apartheid South Africa, these question of race remains the same. When hanging out with some friends, two Indian guys asked me if I was Indian; I replied "No"; then they asked if I was an engineer, which I said "No" to as well. They said that I "looked like I did" in response. In another instance, when talking with an Afrikaans guy on social media, while he discussed his hatred of Black people, I continuously thought to myself, "what do you think I am?". When speaking Setswana with some Black students, they repeatedly said, "you speak good Setswana for a White person!". Lastly, one of my new friends, who is Afrikaans, thought I was an English student who had an American accent because I watched too much TV. While the TV part is true, this demonstrates the living implications of racial Apartheid policies defining race in South Africa. To be "none of the above" in South Africa seems to not be an option, as I continue to question racial social situations, such as "would I fit in at an Afrikaans concert?", or "would I be stared at when attending a football game?". However, to be brutally honest, I am better treated here compared to the US, where, despite having had similar racial policies under Jim Crow, I have and am clearly labeled and negatively treated as "non-white".

For Reference

Population Registration Act of 1950: Apartheid policy under which South Africans were classified as "White", "Black", "Coloured", or "Indian".

Immorality Act of 1927 and 1950: Apartheid Policy that prohibited sexual relations with people of different races, specifically between "White", "Black", "Coloured", and "Indian".

Separate Representation of Voters Act of 1951: Apartheid policy that stripped "coloured" people of their voting rights in South Africa.

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