South Africa Says: “China is the New Black!”

The homeboy Colin told me about this and I’ve been meaning to write about it for awhile (good look, C):

“A high court in South Africa ruled on Wednesday that Chinese-South Africans will be reclassified as “black,” a term that includes black Africans, Indians and others who were subject to discrimination under apartheid. As a result of this ruling, ethnically Chinese citizens will be able to benefit from government affirmative action policies aimed at undoing the effects of apartheid.”

This is interesting to me because of how it challenges our perception in the United States of the Asian American model minority myth, which totally ranks different oppressed racial groups who are all being shafted, divides them against each other and ignores the histories of struggle and oppression that Asian American Pacific Islanders have faced in this country. It is also makes me curious to see how much of an impact south Africa’s extensive post-apartheid affirmative action programs have had.

A quick wikipedia search showed that Chinese-South Africans will now be qualified for the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) program, which is bananas when you think about how much affirmative action programs have been gutted in the United States.

Go ‘head Blasians!


4 responses to “South Africa Says: “China is the New Black!”

  1. i wonder how this will all play out. i am staying in joburg now (but originally from the bay area) and the blacks i have spoken to here are offended by the ruling calling it a convenient desire to being classified as black when under apartheid chinese were counted as coloured and thus afforded more rights. additionally, some black folks here have also expressed resentment over the fact that the chinese will have access to BEE and the fruits (and there may really be no fruits at this point considering the increased poverty since apartheid) of post-apartheid without having actively been part of the anti-apartheid movement. i dont think the ruling has wide enough publicity to actually incite beef between chinese and black folks in SA but i do wonder what the ruling says about the use of the term ‘black’ and at which point being black/being classified as black become desirable. i am searching for the transcripts of the case because id be interested in reading the nuances of this all considering most news story give you soundbites that do not reflect the complexity of the situation.

  2. Great points, Kameelah.

    It’s great to hear thoughts from someone actually there, as I definitely can only speak as an outside observer.

    I was not even aware that poverty has increased since apartheid, that is very disheartening.

    I wonder if you feel that the BEE and policies put in place to remedy the effects of apartheid were ever given a real shot at success? I look forward to reading more about it on your blog, thanks for stopping thru!


  3. Good looks on posting this KCeezy. I knew it would spark thoughtful conversation. Asian folks have almost always had a difficult time figuring out where they belong under capitalism in a world that has been largely dominated by an oppressive ideal of White supremacy and Europe and Amerika’s benefitting, and gaining their status today from the colonization of Africa (word to Walter Rodney).

    Asians have been colonizers and the colonized, giants in business and also some of the poorest people on the planet. However you slice it, because such an enormous group of people have been lumped into one group (“Asians” make up 2/3 of the world’s population) some will see us as privileged and others, as oppressed.

    I think continuing to dialogue and reading books(!) is not gonna hurt our search for truth.

    Peace + Balance,

  4. Tahnks for posting

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