Featured image: Photo by michael loadenthal on flickr.
4 for Now
What is Apartheid?
Apartheid is defined [PDF, page 4] as inhumane acts committed in “an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups” intending to maintain the regime. Inhumane acts include murder, enslavement, forcible transfer of population, imprisonment, and grave sexual violence (such as forced pregnancy or sterilization).
Six elements are required [Amnesty International course, free with registration] to qualify as apartheid:
1. Inhumane acts must have been committed.
The history of the US is rife with such incidents:
- The murder and forcible removal of Native Americans to “reservations.” [YouTube]
- Enslaving African peoples.
- Creating “slave patrols” that became today’s racist police force.
- Medical experimentation on Black folks [video, CC].
- The forcible removal of Japanese and Japanese Americans to prison camps.
- Detaining non-white immigrants and our racist prison system.
- Forced sterilizations that continue today.
2. These acts are committed against members of a racial group or groups.
While the US doesn’t limit such behavior to racial groups (e.g. recent anti-trans bills), most of the US’s inhumane activity, perpetrated by white people, has been against people of other races.
3. The racial group is a civilian population.
Oppression in our military apparently doesn’t count in apartheid, but it’s safe to say a majority of the folks we’re oppressing on the regular are civilians.
4. These acts are part of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination.
Systemic racism and oppression are familiar and proven concepts.
5. These acts intend to establish and maintain domination.
Apartheid “requires a special intent to establish or maintain the regime of racial discrimination.” Since not everyone is as open as Israel about their domination intents, in most cases, “special intent needs to be concluded from the facts.” And the facts are:
- The constitution, written by white men, says they’re forming a union for “ourselves and our Posterity” (offspring). Meaning they formed the US for white people.
- When determining representation, the constitution counted enslaved Black people as only 3/5 of a person and did not include Native Americans at all.
- The 13th Amendment allows slavery as punishment for crime.
Don’t even try to tell me, “But they wrote that so long ago. Things have changed.” It’s still in use today.
6. These acts form part of a widespread or systematic attack.
An attack is widespread if it’s cumulative or of great magnitude. Systematic means “non-accidental repetition” of similar offenses which lie in laws, policies, and practices.
If the above isn’t widespread or systematic enough for you, how about:
- Jim Crow-era laws still harm people like Brandon Jackson.
- Rampant voting discrimination.
- The “War on Drugs” targets Black and Latine people.
- Greater segregation and larger wealth gaps due to redlining.
Thinking this isn’t apartheid because some white folks are oppressed too? I’d argue we’re simply collateral damage.
(More than) 4 for Later
Pick one or more organizations and take one or more actions. (Anything from signing a petition or sending a form email to volunteering, donating, and more.)
- Amnesty USA or Amnesty International
- Native American Rights Fund
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- Global Citizen
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice
- Human Rights Watch
- Hispanic Federation
- Cultural Survival
- The Advocates for Human Rights
- Equal Justice Initiative
- Physicians for Human Rights
- Human Rights Initiative