In South Africa, a supermarket looking to hire new employees targeted black recruits, drawing white backlash. The incident inspired filmmaker Roger Young to create t-shirts reading “I benefited from apartheid.” His goal was for white critics to “understand” how the legacy of apartheid persists, he said. But the t-shirts have only added fuel to the fire.

Mr. Young printed 40 t-shirts displayed under a sign labeled “Free t-shirts, white only,” and received mixed responses. Supporters thought it was a brave way to communicate the enduring effect apartheid had on the country, still palpable almost 20 years later. Naysayers were adamant that apartheid was a gift.

Margarita Barnard wrote on Facebook:

“I tell you who benefited from apartheid, it was blacks. I wish blacks would give whites apartheid. And I will tell you why I say this. Whites came to a country where there was nothing, just some black tribes living in mud huts killing each other. No roads no infrastructure no South Africa even. Blacks were always dying from famines when there were droughts, from tsetse fly [sleeping sickness], from yellow fever, malaria, name it they died in droves […] They had no doctors, no writing, no schools no hospitals no roads, and worst of all and something which probably cause more deaths than the rest, no sewage system. Whites came and provided all those at the expense of whites, white know how gave blacks everything they take for granted today. Like clothes, pens, computers, everything of a billion things it needs to create a civilization. BUT whites couldn’t civilise them, so apartheid was necessary to keep whites alive.”

Barnard isn’t alone in her sentiments. Francois DeWet posted:

“Get me a dictionary or something that shows me how black Africans could be taught in their own languages subjects like maths, science and biology. Simple, you cannot teach in a language that does not have the terminology to do so. We didn’t place restrictions on the development of their languages and simply had to find another way to give them a start in live. So, alternative mediums were introduced to accommodate the lack of terminology, and they went apeshit!!”

The aforementioned posts and the hate mail Mr. Young has received only prove his point that race relations are still suffering from the impact of apartheid.

What do you think of Mr. Young’s t-shirts and the resulting backlash, Clutchettes?

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