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Posted: February 24th, 2022

Race and Gender

Race and Gender
South Africa is a society where Asians, Africans, and Europeans co-exist together. The apartheid policy relegated blacks to conditions of extreme poverty and deprived them of their rights as citizens. Similarly, after abolishing slavery and the slave trade in the United States, black Americans’ marginalization continued through enforced segregation that diminished access to necessary facilities, education, housing, and opportunities (Smithsimon, n.p.). Apartheid and segregation policies in South Africa and America separated families creating borders between friends and family members based on race.
Nadine Gordimer’s scholarly works expose the dark sides of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Gordimer’s works disclose that people of color are sidelined and marginalized. In the story, “Which New Era Would That Be?” Jake Alexander, half-African and half Scottish, receives unexpected visitors, Alister and Jennifer, as he prepares dinner for his colored friends. Jennifer is white and lives in the hovels of Cape Town, where he actively advocates against apartheid. Although Jake and Alister were childhood friends, their dressing tells them apart (Gordimer, n.p.). After settling down, Jake’s friend Maxie tells a story where he and his white friend were invited for lunch by a white businessman. However, during the meals, the businessman informs Maxie that his lunch will be served separately while the two white men dine separately. This followed apartheid policies that required people of different racal groups to live separately (“A history of Apartheid …” n.p.). This indicates segregation based on color was used to create borders between friends.
Moreover, Maxie’s second story describes a telephone relationship he had with a white woman working as a secretary. However, when Maxie decided to drop by her work lace and meet her, the lady becomes uncomfortable, terrified, and seemingly embarrassed to be seen with his as he was black (Gordimer, n.p.). The stories were aimed at Jennifer to illustrate how hard it was for a person of color in apartheid South Africa. Both Jake and Maxie resent Jennifer because they think she is pretending to identify with the black community.
In the story “Passing,” Langston Hughes reveals Jack’s letter, a half-white African American, to his mother. Jack’s ability to pass as a white man makes him leave his darker family to live a white life as a white man. By doing so, jack feels he is leaving the oppression of being black behind to get a new job and enjoy other opportunities and privileges reserved for whites (Hughes, n.p.). One evening while he was walking with his girlfriend, Jack met his mother and failed to acknowledge her as his girlfriend didn’t know he is half black. However, to live his new white identity, Jack decides to give up his old life, representing his true identity (Hughes, n.p.). Jack mentions that her brother and sister should not be afraid to talk to him or his girlfriend even though they may not be happy with his decision to change from black to white. As such, race is used to create a border between jack and his family.
In conclusion, both stories and race are used to create a border, thereby separating family members and friends. Maxie got rejected after having a successful flirtatious relationship with a white woman because he was black. Also, the jack felt terrible about a cross-racial relationship and decided to adopt a white culture to continue with her relationship with his white girlfriend. Both stories show how apartheid and segregation create borders separating friends and family members based on race.

Works Cited
Gordimer, N., n.d. “Which New Era Would That Be?” [online] Writing.upenn.edu. Available at: [Accessed 24 November 2020].
Hughes, L., n.d. Passing. [online] Msdavisflowers.files.wordpress.com. Available at: [Accessed 24 November 2020].
Smithsimon, Gregory. Are African American families more vulnerable in a largely white neighborhood? 21 February 2018. 24 November 2020. .
South African History Online. A history of Apartheid in South Africa. 06 May 2016. 24 November 2020. .


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