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Apartheid And Poverty

An apartheid notice on a beach near Capetown, denoting the area for whites only. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)


Apartheid is an Afrikaans word meaning “the state of being apart,”, or rather “apart-hood.” It was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation by the dominant governing party from 1948 to 1994. But apartheid in various forms continues to exist throughout the world, most often based upon language, culture, race, and/or religious affiliation.


Ideally nations are secular and multi-ethnic, welcoming and accommodating to all people within their boarders. Sadly, recent history is replete with example of just the opposite: Israeli suppression of Palestinians within Israel, Iraqi domination over Iraqi Kurds, Caucasian American subjugation of native Americans and blacks. Creating “homelands” for various such peoples has repeatedly only served to deepen the divides.


This week both Pakistan and India marked their independence days – independence from Great Britain that is. What followed was an ugly conflict between Indians whose culture and religion was distinct. Tens of thousands were killed, India was subdivided into Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, and the conflicts between them continue today.


As nations consider policies characterized by apartheid, we do well to remember the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi: “Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man you have seen, and ask yourself if this step you contemplate is going to be any use to him.”


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