- Mar 27, 2007
This Youth Month has begun with yet another report of deeply entrenched racism at an elite South African school. Singo Ravele, a pupil at Cornwall Hill College in Pretoria, a school previously described as prestigious but which is in fact dubious and regressive, stood at the school’s own podium and emotionally relayed the racism she has suffered at the school from the time she was in Grade 4.
We attend these schools hoping they will take us as far as they have taken white people. We hope these schools will not only change our lives but the lives of our children’s children and their children thereafter. The pursuit of quality education promises a quality life and esteem in society.
When black children are left in the hands of uncaring institutions, what is the impact not only on their psyches but that of their families, communities and generations to come? What is the price of admission? Our esteem, our health, our wholeness, our confidence, our ambition?
I have no doubt that if I walked around the Cornwall Hill College campus I would find all the silent ways (never mind the overt racism spewed by careless teachers) in which black children are alienated and demeaned. Spaces which testify to the alienation of its black students. The silent racism of a school’s physical design, its uniforms, its school song, its art, and its food is just as suffocating as the overt racism.
social context has everything to do with the current state of these elite white South African schools. I believe change is possible, but I believe you have to want to change because it is the right thing to do, not out of fear of retribution. Every day I try not to grow more doubtful that these institutions really are capable of changing beyond merely exploiting the presence of black pupils as evidence of their supposed transformation while simultaneously punishing them for their blackness.
OPINIONISTA: Institutional racism: The real price of admission to ‘white schools’ too high for black kids
When black children are left in the hands of uncaring institutions, what is the impact not only on their psyches but on that of their families, communities and generations to come?