Culture and Equity related to African American Studies

In this essay I am going to analyze one cross cultural historical scenario of discrimination that has happened in the United States. I am then going to analyze a historical scenario that was in the memoir To My Children’s Children written Sindiwe Magona. I will also include an analysis on a contemporary scenario of discrimination in the United States in regards to gender. I will propose a personal strategy and institutional strategy that would contribute to greater equity and social justice in the United States and South Africa. Lastly, I will conclude with my final thoughts on equity and social justice.

The United States and South Africa has dealt with many issues of cross cultural discrimination, inequity, and social injustice throughout history. Even today there are still issues of discrimination within both countries. Whether or not these issues will come to an end is still unknown, however we can look at the past and begin to realize the mistakes that we have made and make a start towards fixing them. I believe that most of this can be done through social awareness and by having an active voice in the community. One significant event in United States history that deals with these issues is the court case of Brown versus Board of Education in Topeka Kansas in 1954. What they found was that segregation violates the 14th Amendment which states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United Sates; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (Fourteenth Amendment, 1868). This court case was not just about children in the school system it aimed at changing the way colored people were being treated.

This U.S. event is similar to what happened in the South Africa during this same period. Segregation was also taking place where Sindiwe Magona was residing. The same kinds of situations were taking place as students were also segregated from schools based on their skin color. “The sound of a band playing chintzy music, any day, any time, made this, yet another “whites-only” piece of South Africa, the more tantalizing, the more remote (Magona, 1998)”. In South Africa the segregation of black and white’s was so intense that there were certain places that blacks could not enter because they were only for whites only.

Even presently in the United States there are still forms of discrimination happening. One example that is still happening in the United States is the discrimination of women in the workforce. One of the biggest factors that is happening with that is the way that women are being underpaid especially compared to men. The International Decade on Women, stated that “Women do seventy five percent of the world’s work; they earn ten percent of the world’s wages and own one percent of the world’s property (Kirk, 2006)”. It seems that most of women’s’ work is unpaid and therefore is considered unproductive. Not only this, but even the women that do work are extremely underpaid and over-represented in low paying jobs.

However, there are ways in which we can make a difference for those that are suffering from discrimination in the United States and South Africa. One way is by having an active voice and promoting awareness. One personal way that I can do this is to set up a MySpace page in regards to this issue. Since MySpace is a popular website and is viewed my so many people in this generation it is a great way to get people more aware. I would do this by making a page that is aimed at promoting awareness by talking about what is happening in both South Africa and the United States in regards to discrimination. Another way is to set a website focused specifically on these two issues. There could also be links to programs in which others can be involved in. The internet is such a great way to be able to get involved and help get people involved.

An institutional strategy for the United States and South Africa could deal with education and allowing people to get an understanding of the issues and interact with each other to find ways to stop them from occurring. An educational program focused on discrimination and the many forms of it would make a huge difference. The next generation can take what they learn in these classes and apply to the world around them. I personally feel that if people were aware of how mistreated they were then they would be able to change it. Personally, I never knew of how underpaid and mistreated women were until I took a Women’s Issues class in the spring of 2008. In this course, I learned of the ways in which women were being treated in society. If other women had this knowledge then they too would want to make a difference and change the way in which they were being treated in the society. I believe that this would be an effective institutional strategy that the United States and South Africa could undertake.

Cottrol, R, & Diamond, R (2003). Brown V. Board of Education: caste, culture,
and the constitution.Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas.

DiTomaso, N, & Post, C (2004). Diversity in the Workforce.Amsterdam,
Boston: Elservier.

Kirk, G, & Okazawa-Rey, M (2006). Women’s Lives: Multicultural
Perspectives.New York, NY: McGraw-Hills Co..

Magona, Sindiwe (1998). To My Children’s Children. South Africa:
David Philip Publishers (Pty) Ltd.