How does Racism in the US compare with an Apartheid South Africa

 Immigrants, Racism, Social Capital  Comments Off on How does Racism in the US compare with an Apartheid South Africa
Aug 052018
 

RACE RELATION SIMILARITIES BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICA AND AMERICA

Guest Post by Lauren Morris

Lauren is the eldest daughter of our Executive Director, Brent Morris and spouse Caren. Lauren recently completed her first year at college and wrote an insightful history paper on racism, and interviewed her South African immigrant parents to get their perspectives.

The blog post that follows is a summary of her paper, with findings and parent perspectives:

The United States of America and the Republic of South Africa are the only two countries which employed legal segregation at some point in their histories. The way that segregation came about in each of these countries is vastly different, however, the effects that we are seeing today are interestingly similar. In America, legislation such as Jim Crow Laws were put in place in the late 19th century after slavery was abolished to keep African Americans separate from white people in the south. Jim Crow Laws forced Southern blacks to use separate public facilities and put them at a severe disadvantage by limiting their education and ability to vote. In South Africa, similar segregation laws were in place from around 1950 until the early 1990s under the apartheid system. Even now in the 21st century, both America and South Africa are still reaping the consequences of these laws through the racial tension between people groups within each of their countries.

Coming to America

South African culture and history have always been fascinating to me because I am the daughter of South African immigrants. For this {college} project, I had the opportunity to interview each of my parents about their journey to America, how South Africa is different from America, and what the racial situation was like in South Africa. My parents, Caren and Brent Morris, were married in August of 1991. Two weeks later, they made the 18-hour flight to Tulsa, Oklahoma so that my dad could “undertake a work transfer or 18-month secondment to receive international training.” Once their temporary work visas expired, they returned to South Africa for just less than four years before immigrating to America permanently in February of 1997. They made the tough decision to move to America for many different reasons. My dad, Brent Morris, said they decided to come to the U.S. “to secure a better future for our children, and ourselves, where they could be safe, get a good education, and find decent employment.” My mom, Caren Morris, added that they came “to get away from South Africa’s new government with its corruption and affirmative action.”

Once they arrived in America, it did not take them long to notice some distinct differences between South Africa and their new home. They were both amazed by seemingly simple things such as how large the vehicles in America were and the huge selection of grocery items and clothing.They also noticed how inexpensive everyday items were compared to South Africa. My mom was fascinated by the fact that homes did not have walls or fences around them for protection. Instead, they were open and had beautiful gardens with grass and flowers for all to see. My parents both enjoy living in America and became U.S. citizens in 2007. However, there are still some things about South Africa that they miss. Both of them said that they miss family and friends as well as the beaches and the tropical climate. My mom mentioned that she missed the “South African sense of humor” while my dad said he missed the South African food and sports and visiting game reserves and holiday destinations. Unfortunately, life in South Africa is not always picture perfect. The country suffers from much rising racial tension and problems following the end of apartheid.

Apartheid 

In 1948 during apartheid, “4.5 million whites, 11% of the population, govern the country of 40.9 million. Whereas the 2.5 million Coloreds (people of mixed ancestry) and the 900,000 Asians have some parliamentary representation, the 33 million blacks have no voice whatsoever inside the government.” This whole situation was destined for disaster for many reasons. First of all, the black people living in South Africa, referred to as “Africans,” were the indigenous people. The whites in South Africa came as Dutch (1652) and English (1820) settlers to what was at the time British territory. Eventually, this white minority formed their own government and began to enforce their laws on the black majority and gave them no say in the matter.

In 1991, the government under President F. W. de Klerk started to repeal the legislation that allowed apartheid to continue in South Africa.16 By the 1994 election, blacks were given the right to vote and Nelson Mandela was elected as President. Ever since that election, the African National Congress (ANC), which is mainly composed of Africans, has been in control of the South African government. This may seem like the way the government in South Africa should have been the whole time. However, this change of power is now causing reverse discrimination against whites. With quota systems that are currently in place, it is much harder for white citizens to find well-paying jobs, regardless of their education. Jobs are not allocated based on skill or education but based on the color of the person’s skin.

“The collapse of the apartheid system in the 1980s and 1990s sparked a (primarily white) exodus from South Africa” because of the lack of opportunities and the change of power. Between 1987 and 2001, about 310,000 people emigrated from South Africa and went to the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Of those South African citizens who left the country, about 50,000 of them had professional qualifications. White South Africans began to realize that their “. . . whiteness might be a disadvantage in contemporary South Africa.” Not only did it become much harder for them to find jobs, but there was also a lot of racial tension and increased violence towards whites and they began to feel “increasingly threatened.” Thus, the end of apartheid and the transition of power resulted in the emigration of many educated, white South Africans, like my parents. This has come to be known as the “Brain Drain.”

Although legal segregation in America ended quite a few years before apartheid collapsed in South Africa and “nonwhites are the overwhelming majority in contemporary South Africa but a relatively small minority in the United States,” there are similarities between the issues each country has faced or is facing. African Americans have suffered through oppression ever since the end of the Civil War and the emancipation of slaves. Many slaves left the south and moved to the midwestern part of America after the Civil War to escape the Jim Crow Laws and intense racism. Unfortunately, “for some African Americans, even Kansas could not provide sufficient safeguard from Jim Crow’s touch, with many opting for emigration to Canada, Mexico,the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa as safer alternatives to life in the United States.” Even in America today it can be much harder for African Americans to get decent, well-paying jobs and have the same opportunities as white Americans. One of the reasons this is the case is because African Americans originally came to the country as slaves. Therefore, they did not have many opportunities to begin with. This could also be due to strict laws and stereotypes of African Americans which has caused so many African American males in particular to be incarcerated. In addition, some employers may be prejudiced against African Americans which can make it hard for them to land a decent job. Therefore, it can be much more difficult for African Americans to find good employment opportunities, in their own country, than their white American counterparts.

Conclusion

By comparing and contrasting cultures and racial issues in America and South Africa, one gets a deeper insight into the components of American culture that we would not otherwise think about unless we look at a culture that is different from our own. Through hearing of the struggles that many white South Africans face as the minority in the country, we can begin to get a feel for what it is like to be an immigrant or African American in a country where the majority of the people are white. In addition, we can see the numerous detrimental effects that racial segregation can have on countries regardless of their varying histories. It is also important to learn from the history of South Africa and America in order to better understand emigrants in America, as well as African Americans and ongoing challenges that each of these minority groups face.

Published with permission of the author

 

All kids are our kids ~ Welcoming the Immigrant

 Immigrants  Comments Off on All kids are our kids ~ Welcoming the Immigrant
Jun 242018
 

So much news this past week about immigrants on our southern border. Did you know that many border detention centers are for-profit prison businesses that are paid over $100 per day to hold a prisoner while requiring that prisoner to work for below minimum wage? GEO is the largest for-profit prison business in our country.  Southwest Key Co. runs large child detention centers in Texas. Both receive enormous government contracts. That’s one aspect of the storyline. The other is that there are real human beings behind all the numbers and news headlines.

According to the latest Pew Research, 58% of Americans say that having an increasing number of people of different races, ethnic groups and nationalities in the U.S. makes the country a better place to live; just 9% say it makes the country a worse place to live

As believers, we ought to recognize that our faith dictates how we are to treat the ‘foreigner’ and ‘sojourner’ We ought to be praying for all people in need and study what the sacred texts tell us and shape your perspective.

This past week, we started our first week of summer camps. We have a great time with over 45 children each day, from ages 4 to 17, from various countries including Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Chile. It was a blessing to see these children integrating, playing and having fun, together. We started each day in a large circle, along with over 20 student volunteers holding hands signifying a big multi-ethnic multi-generational family. We prayed together, learned about creation together, and went swimming together. We love on all our kids. We also love their parents who participated right alongside us. We love the diversity. And our children love the facility to learn, read, develop life skills and enjoy their freedom in a safe environment. Please pray for all families seeking asylum around the world and those seeking a better future for their children. The two main reasons for Central American immigrants coming to the US? Escape violence, including drugs and trafficking, and the inability to earn a decent wage to support their family. Which parent wouldn’t go to extraordinary lengths to provide a safe environment for their children?

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our program sponsors, partners, mission groups, volunteers and interns for supporting our first week of summer enrichment programs for the under-served in our city.

Brent Morris

Executive Director

Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

June 24, 2018

Jun 172018
 

So begins the long hot summer. Summer holidays for most children, the world over, are a time to relax, enjoy themselves, and catch up on studies, or to spend time with family and friends. Many families travel together on school holidays. Not so for most impoverished families whose children are growing up in challenging circumstances, or close to it. We know this first hand, having offered year-round programs to predominantly immigrant and refugee families since 2012.

The US has the auspicious distinction of having one the longest summer vacations of any developed country. According to Organization for Economic and Community Development, the US doesn’t have a uniform school year and summer vacation schedule. It’s therefore hard to tell where American schools stack up in comparison with the rest of the world. But the largest districts in the US have a summer break of 11 to 12 weeks, or about two and a half months, according to data from the National Council on Teacher Quality. That’s more time off than kids get in France, Germany, and Poland, and a bit longer than Finland and Norway. This information is also supported by Pew Research

Summer is not a good time for underperforming children in our local public schools. Of the estimated 48,000 kindergarten to third grade students in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), approximately 31,000 will not have access to summer enrichment programs. That’s a long 11 weeks to be without some level of enrichment while they often spend the summer cooped up at home, often taking care of younger siblings, and confined to the indoors.

Having provided programs for underserved communities and their children, we have seen the impacts of what is commonly called the summer slide. This is a well-publicized phenomenon whereby children from low-income families lose ground to their more affluent peers every year, on account of not having the needed encouragement at home, access to books, and access to similar literacy enrichment programs.

We, at Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, are grateful to be able to address the summer slide for our children for the sixth consecutive year. We want each and every child to return to school more confident, hopeful and encouraged that they can be what they want to be, because they read great books that we provided for them, and spent some of the long summer reading and learning with cool and caring volunteers!

Most of our children join our program two- to three- reading grade levels behind their peers who speak English at home and whose parents most likely attended college. Our goal is to encourage reading and math intervention during the summer so that our students, ages 5 to 11 years, can start the new school year in September no worse than they ended the prior school year. If children stay at grade level that’s a huge win. If they work hard, and stay engaged through learning during the summer, hallelujah! We are doing our bit to encourage children to use their summer wisely. Most importantly, we are also educating parents that summer should not be a time to take a break. We provide various interventions for children and parents alike, so that the summer can be an opportunity to stay on track or make advancements, rather than slide back. Who wants any child of ours to get way behind, and then run the risk of dropping out of school in later years.  A good education should be within reach of every child, even those who could not afford to attend fun educational camps, like their more fortunate peers.

With an average 6 out of 10 (only 39% can read at grade level) to be exact) third grade students not reading at grade level, wouldn’t we be better off with a shorter summer and the opportunity to avoid the summer slide? We will continue to do what we do, one child and family at a time, as we treat all children as our children!

Jun 042018
 

The Leading on Opportunity Report included a definition that speaks to the secret sauce that could very well address the needs of under served children in our city… 

“Social capital is defined as the building of relationships and networks that may very well be the ‘secret sauce’ for helping economically disadvantaged youth navigate systems, gain access to information, and open doors to resources and opportunity. It could change the future lives of many of our community’s children.”

Our mission is aligned with addressing the upward mobility of children in Charlotte. And it’s important. Why? Because Charlotte was ranked dead last or 50 out of 50 major cities for upward mobility of children growing up in poverty.

See what we are doing to address the recommendations of the Opportunity Task Force

 Posted by at 10:17 pm
Jun 042018
 

                                                                    Image result for child and adult holding hands

In order to have a thriving garden, one must start with caring for and nourishing each and every plant they have. Each plant is essential for bringing the garden together to create a beautiful landscape, therefore, they must be able to grow properly. With this said, no garden is perfect. Some plants may be left quenched and simply in need of more attention (and water). Like these plants, we believe the children of our nation should be granted the opportunity to flourish in their education in order to grow and contribute to what should be a wholesome beautiful landscape. However, we find that some children are left behind. Like a single plant, a child must rely on that of a provider to feed them with the necessary and vital elements that will grant them the opportunity to sprout. 

Here at Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, we find it imperative to improve the literacy rates for children who may not have access to all the resources necessary to help them learn. We find that when assisting a child with their reading skills that many other skills improve as well since all subjects entail some form of reading. 

We are seeking to expand our team of volunteers and interns this summer that can be those helping hands for these children and be the guidance they need. We are looking for high school/college students who are interested in pursuing English, Spanish, or Education to join us as we continue throughout the summer with a handful of summer camps that entail enrichment activities that will further the children’s reading skills. 

We hope that you will help us cultivate our garden of children to grow.

If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity please click on the following link for more information;

Intern and Volunteer Opportunities

 Posted by at 4:32 pm
May 282018
 

                                                                                                     Image result for nostalgic summer photos

School is wrapping up and children are hustling and bustling to finish the last of their schoolwork and end their year strong. The nostalgic sound of splashing pool water and the warmth of summer sun is motivating them to give their last push to reach the finish line. We have witnessed their hard work and have engaged with them through teaching and helping them with concepts in areas they have struggled with, however, we believe this period of assistance and enlightenment should not end as summer begins.

Many students suffer from the “summer slide”, and although it sounds fun, it most definitely is not. Children unfortunately slide back on their reading grades when they do not take part in reading activities during the long summer months. That’s why summer reading is critical to ensuring that our children return to school at or ahead of where they were when the summer vacation commenced.

Aside from developing literary skills we also believe it is important to develop other educational skills along with some social and character building skills as well. This helps keep the minds of the children constantly stimulated and prepared to take on new challenges their upcoming school year.

That is why here at Learning Help Centers of Charlotte we will be offering a series of summer camps that will help build character, improve literary comprehension, and go on excursions that will cross summer adventuring with mental exploration. The results of our past camps have been very encouraging and we intend to ensure every child is ready to start the new school with a great start. 

Serving this community to help children grow and advance is what fulfills all of our hearts here at LHCC. Educating a child is what helps build a bigger and brighter tomorrow where each kid is able to use their identity, uniqueness, and intelligence to build a more cohesive, healthy, and progressive society that is filled with endless potential. Educating each and every one of our children is a promise we should all keep.

We will be hosting two weeks worth of summer camps each month starting in June and continuing on until August. Our camps will occur from Monday to Thursday from 9-3:30 and will either be set at St. Andrews United Methodist Church or Central United Methodist Church!

Summer Enrichment and Literacy Camp Dates: 

·         Week 1:  June 18 – 21 (St. Andrews United MC – south)
·         Week 2:  July 9 – 12 (Central United MC – east)
·         Week 3:  July 16 – 19 (Central United MC – east)
·         Week 4:  August 6 – 9 (St. Andrews United MC – south)
·         Week 5:  August 13 – 16 (St. Andrews United MC – south)

Hooray to the end of the 2018 school year and a big whoop whoop for a beautiful, productive summer to come!

 

 Posted by at 12:02 pm