What does race mean for South Africa's 'born frees'?

They've been labelled the 'born free' generation of South Africans - those born after 1994 who have never lived under an apartheid government.

The generation that was supposed to embody Mandela's idea of a 'rainbow nation' and a non-racial South Africa.

But was that asking too much, too soon? How do born frees feel about race?

A paper published in the Effective Executive journal looked at the attitudes of young South Africans, born after 1994, towards race and identity.

One of the authors, UCT MBA graduate Pierre Cassuto, spoke to Africa Melane about the findings.

For many of those young South Africans, race exists as a concept, but they believe it shouldn't. In some ways, they consciously reject racial essentialist thinking, which is what apartheid was built on, but subconsciously they still use it to varying degrees.

Pierre Cassuto, Author - NonRacial Identities of South African Born Frees: Implications for HR management

Cassuto says some of the findings of the paper surprised the authors.

People with a sense of purpose and confidence are much less likely to define race as an important part of their identity than those without.

Pierre Cassuto, Author - NonRacial Identities of South African Born Frees: Implications for HR management

The paper found that the barrier to achieving the ideal of a non-racial South Africa most often cited was that of unequal treatment and opportunities.

All described either witnessing or experiencing incidents of unequal treatment, especially in the workplace.

Diversity needs to become the norm, both in businesses and in society. HR currently treats diversity as a quota.

Pierre Cassuto, Author - NonRacial Identities of South African Born Frees: Implications for HR management

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : What does race mean for South Africa's 'born frees'?


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