Education and Racism in the United States and Namibia

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Education and Racism in the United States and Namibia Formal, lawfully shaped education is an intimate and delicate tool of human influence. It is therefore immeasurably dangerous. In light of our human history, no tool has been more effective at both propagating and dismantling national ideologies, often regardless of the content or meaning of what national ideology demands of its people. In the histories of the United States and southern Africa, formal education has been used to reinforce the political, social, economic and psychological effects of racism. Yet today, education is the prime tool of dismantling the consequences which racism begat. In studying human discrimination and aggression, systems of education become mouth pieces for power and authority. Investigating structures of education is key to understanding why things were the way they were, and why we are the way we are today. Understanding colonialism is fundamental in understanding why these two nations exist in this world the way they do. Both the United States and southern Africa share legacies of European colonists entering into land occupied by native peoples, and dominating these peoples through superior weaponry, disease, and doctrines of superiority; in short, through structures of racism. Today, in classrooms throughout Namibia and the United States, racism is a recognized and standard term of inequity and human injustice. In the States, racism “not only refers to personal prejudice toward people of other races, but also to the way that US institutions give power and privilege to white society while denying this same power and privilege to people of color” (SAN). In southern Africa, the modern understanding of racism is embodied in understanding the political movement of apartheid, and the legally enforced separation of non-whites from whites within society. The parallels between these two systems of human categorization and fundamental separation are startling; legally binding systems of racism developed into massive bodies of conflict and hate that stood firm until the 1960s. While South African apartheid was formally established as the law of the land in 1948, the same year saw the Civil Rights movement in the United States poised to grip the nation. At this point in time, the psychological effects of racism had turned into an enabling anger and resistance; people gradually were banding together to forcibly demand a new way of life. Segregating non-whites from whites, and offering whites better economic opportunity and improved education, effectively created societies of intense disparity along racial lines.

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