This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s Web page.

From 1949 though the early 1990s, South Africa was ruled by an Afrikaner Apartheid regime that made race the basis for law and politics, and which systematically excluded black Africans from their civil and national rights, empowering white Afrikaners alone. The social statistics produced by that regime, however, are not so different from those produced by ordinary every day legal and social practices in today’s United States. Impunity for white policemen who kill Blacks is one commonality between the two societies. I don’t have the clip to embed yet, but Jon Stewart made this point on his Daily Show on Comedy Central Thursday night. Here are some numbers to flesh it out.

1. Rates of imprisonment: notes :

Incarceration rate per 100,000 population in South Africa under apartheid (1993): 368
Incarceration rate per 100,000 Black males in South Africa under apartheid (1993): 851
Incarceration rate per 100,000 African-American males in the United States under George W. Bush (2001): 4,848 ”

2. Residential segregation, from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

“… Douglas Massey, professor of sociology and public affairs, Princeton University. . . . said composite measurements of geographic segregation on a zero-to-100 scale show that South Africa in 1991 measured in the low 90s, while many American cities today rank in the high 70s to low 80s.”

3. Homicides concentrated in African-American neighborhoods; Whet Moser writes:

“Johannesburg has a murder rate of 30.5 per 100k and Cape Town has one of 46 per 100k, comparable to Chicago’s 1992 rate of 34 per 100k.

As in Chicago, its homicides are geographically concentrated. As in Chicago, South Africa’s cities are immersed in a country with a prevalent gun culture. And both places share a long history of segregation.”

4. Black-White intermarriage rate:

In 2010 in the US, about 13% of the 2 million marriages were inter-racial, but only 11% of those (33,000) were white-black marriages– i.e. 1.6% of total marriages.

Interracial marriages were forbidden under Apartheid but in post-Apartheid South Africa they still only account for about 1% of such relationships– a heritage of Apartheid (“the proportion of whites married to other whites fell from 99.6 percent in 1996 to 99.2 percent in 2001, according to census data” according to NBC news.

5. Police violence

In Apartheid South Africa, white police engaged in almost arbitrary violence against and killings of blacks

Draw your own conclusion about the comparison to today’s US.


Related video:

“Jim Crow and Apartheid segregation systems in Racist America and the Afrikaner South Africa”

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