Home Institution

Brandeis University

Publication Date

Fall 2014

Program Name

South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights


This independent study project sought to explore white South African antiracist identities during post-apartheid South Africa and how the ways of making meaning of an antiracist identity contribute to and reflect the conceptual frameworks that already exist. Furthermore, this study intended to illuminate how white identifying antiracist persons in post-apartheid South Africa can be allies in the struggle for a more racially equitable society. The frameworks involved in this project are the academic study of whiteness, critical race theory, and antiracism.

In this study the researcher interviewed four white South Africans who, in one way or another, are intellectually involved with antiracism. The interviews combined two methods: life history interviews and critical evaluation interviews. The life history interviews sought to explore each individual’s cognitive subjective understanding of antiracism, their personal motivations towards a white antiracist identity, and the internal work necessary in becoming antiracist. In this other section, the critical evaluation interview, subject participants were asked to engage critically with the current manifestations of racism in South Africa, the current issues concerning white involvements with antiracism, the responsibilities of white identifying antiracists, and the proper ways for white identifying persons to be allies in the struggle to end racism.

Based on these interviews, it is evident that a white South African antiracist identity is subjective, an individual expression of ones intellectual understanding of what it means to be antiracist. It is also collective, however. Subject participants surfaced common themes of a white antiracist including the admission of a racist and racialized way of understanding the world, the necessity to establish close relationships with people who do not look, act, or talk in similar ways, the need to interrupt racist spaces, the need to relinquish positions and associations of power in antiracist workings, and to be a listener, acting when called upon by those black counterparts who should be leading.


African Studies | Community-Based Research | Ethnic Studies | Inequality and Stratification | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


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