My background is certainly not unique or even rare, at least for many South Africans. When I was born, apartheid was still the law of the land in South Africa and I was classified as "colored" (i.e., neither white nor black) and commonly referred to as "hotnots" (i.e., bastards). As a result, our family was forced to first live in a tiny apartment on the outskirts of Cape Town called Woodstock, or more commonly the "mixed slums." When Woodstock became overcrowded, our family was forcibly relocated to the desert-like Cape Flats, 25 miles further from Cape Town. Because these actions were sanctioned by the government and were therefore "legal," I simply accepted what was happening as a part of the natural course of things. Over time, however, these and other racially motivated incidents during this formative period in my life convinced me that the status quo was inherently wrong and evil, even if I was unable to articulate the precise reasons for my seemingly radical views at the time.
Indeed, I did not come to appreciate the full scope of apartheid until I heard the name "Nelson Mandela" and began learning about the antecedents of apartheid and how the legal practice was used by a white minority to exploit people of color who were actually the majority of the population in their own country, including most especially women who were even more adversely affected by these laws. Thereafter, I no longer held any delusions about the wrongness of apartheid or any semblance of legitimacy in a modern, democratic society.
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This background also fueled my interests in taking a long hard look at the world in which I lived and to determine how not having the right ethnicity or gender can limit personal and professional opportunities.
Following this epiphany, I traveled to Europe where I met my American husband and we visited the U.S. in 2004 and my husband, daughter and I ultimately relocated here in 2009. My "you-live-here-now" culture shock was so intense when I realized that even though the United States was (supposed to be) eons ahead of South Africa with its freedom and racial issues, the harsh realities were so much different. I quickly learned that "apartheid," "slavery," "segregation," or whatever we want to name it, even though no longer officially sanctioned in America, is….....
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