- White South Africans consider black compatriots most racist, while black South Africans consider whites most racist, a new study shows. They however all agree that South Africa is their favourite country to live in and that racism should be rooted out. It is "the others" that have not learned that lesson yet, most South Africans hold.
This was revealed by South Africa's Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), who had commissioned a survey into the progress of nation building in the country. The survey revealed that both whites and Africans think that fellow South Africans of another colour are more racist than their own race group. Also persons still classified as "coloured" and "Indian" by South African statistics found other races to be "most racist".
According to the survey, 80 percent of black South Africans agreed with the statement that "whites are racist". Only 30 percent of white South Africans agreed to that statement. Almost 70 percent of white South African on the other hand agreed that "[black] Africans are racist" - a statement also agreed to by almost 40 percent of black Africans.
Indians, on the other hand, hold that black and white South Africans are equally racist. Around 65 percent of Indians agreed to such statements about the two other groups. In the so-called "coloured" group of mixed race origin, less than 40 percent felt that any other group was racist, making the "coloured" South Africa's most content group in this matter.
In the HSRC survey, almost 2,500 South Africans were asked three questions about their relationship to the nation, or what the Council calls "national identity". In answer to the question whether "the world would be better if countries were more like South Africa," over half (58 percent) said they agreed or strongly agreed. The strongest agreement was among Africans and whites.
A large majority of all respondents - 83 percent - would "rather be a citizen of South Africa than of any other country," Marlene Roefs of HSRC reports. Over two-thirds of whites and four-fifths of Africans agreed with this statement. "The nation-building project seems to be bearing fruit," Ms Roefs concludes.
In addition, it was found that a strong national identity does not preclude a strong racial identity. As with national identity, race identity was stronger among Africans than among the other three race groups. "Most people seem to combine an African, white, coloured or Indian race identity with a strong national identity," Ms Roefs observed.
Her study, published earlier this month, was to raise the question of whether strong national identity or patriotism actually matters for the formation of a non-racist and united South African society. While a strong national identity seems to have been built over the last decade, South Africans still obviously are sceptical towards other races, blaming them for prevailing racism.
The study had suggested that a national identity was "in the process of formation and that this might contribute to unifying, rather than excluding and dividing, various population groups," Ms Roefs says. "Even if, as some argue, South Africans are claiming their South African identity only because it was previously denied to them, this is not necessarily happening at the expense of minority race groups," she optimistically holds.
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