Saturday, June 21, 2008

Yellow: The New Black

Always a hot-button issue, race preferences are in the news again, this time in South Africa:
The High Court in South Africa has ruled that Chinese South Africans are to be reclassified as black people.

It made the order so that ethnic Chinese can benefit from government policies aimed at ending white domination in the private sector.
The association said their members often failed to qualify for business contracts and job promotions because they were regarded as whites.

The association said Chinese South Africans had faced widespread discrimination during the years of apartheid when they had been classified as people of mixed race.

The BBC's Mpho Lakaje in Johannesburg says the Broad-Based Economic Empowerment and the Employment Equity Acts were designed to eradicate the legacy of apartheid which left many black people impoverished.

The laws give people classed as blacks, Indians and coloureds (mixed-race) employment and other economic benefits over other racial groups.
To summarize: yellow, which was formerly white, is now black. At least in the eyes of the law.

As the article notes, its only been 14 years since the end of Apartheid, so perhaps it's not surprising to see pervasive race-based preferences enshrined into law, this time against native whites. Heck, slavery formally ended in the 1860's here in the States, and we still have some legalized race-based preferences in our educational system. South Africa probably has a much better case to argue that such preferences are needed to compensate those who lived under the Apartheid regime or their immediate family members for injustices suffered under that regime.

Of course, any racial preferences serve to divide, rather than unite, a country, and the goal of equality under the law, assuming such a goal is desired, cannot be achieved if one group of citizens are treated differently than another, solely on the basis of the color of their skin.

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