Considering race and poverty

To continue one thread of conversation from class last week: how are race and poverty related in South Africa? In class, we looked specifically at conditions in black communities in Johannesburg: Alexandra and Soweto during the 1970s. This photo essay by Nadine Hutton complicates that conversation significantly, and brings the issue up to the present. We will continue to discuss the relationship between race and poverty, with a particular focus on education and the circulation of ideas when we look at Steve Biko’s biography next week, and then bring the conversation to more recent history in the week after that.

Thanks to John Edwin Mason for posting links to Hutton’s work.

2 thoughts on “Considering race and poverty

  1. Maybe this is my ignorance, but I would never have thought that white poverty would be increasing in South Africa. Although this is a strange comparison, after India gained it’s independence from the British, many Indians were below the poverty line. Although the British have helped in India’s development, they have contributed vastly to it’s poverty. I assumed that the same was in South Africa, and that poverty was not exclusively present among non-white races, but present as a majority amongst non-white races. The author maybe right that poverty is not discriminating anymore as it spreads over South Africa, but I still believe that the poverty that the non-whites found themselves in during and after apartheid still exists along that line. What I mean to say is that, whites, blacks, and other mixed races may find themselves becoming poorer in recent times in South Africa, but I don’t think the poverty from the 1990’s every disappeared.

  2. I found this photo essay to be a very interesting portrait of the way that poverty in South Africa has begun to stray way from being a factor of race by now including more whites. I believe that this is a reflection of the effects apartheid had on South Africa, because the fact that poverty was so heavily associated with race was based on government control by the white South Africans, especially in terms of labor. When blacks had to either flea to their “homelands” or be exploited for cheap labor, the main face of poverty in South Africa became that of the black man and woman. However, once legal apartheid ended the color line began to diminish slightly in terms of poverty and more whites began to live on the streets. However, I find it very interesting that white poverty has been captured in this photo essay as a loss of privilege, because when blacks were first facing poverty after apartheid began, it was a loss of rights, more than a loss off privilege, which I feel is a more significant movement and statement.

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