Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


The black populations in both the United States and South Africa continue to suffer under the legacy of past discrimination and unequal educational opportunity. In both countries, the constitutional revisions eliminating state-sanctioned racial discrimination failed to alleviate the disadvantages experienced by blacks in terms of socioeconomic status, educational opportunity and political power.

America's post-emancipation history, including the Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court jurisprudence, shows that the removal of de jure racial discrimination and constitutionally countenanced unequal treatment is not enough to repair the damage and lingering effects caused by former discrimination. Rather, more affirmative steps are necessary. South African policy makers would do well to learn from America's experiences with post-emancipation inequality as they enter their own post-apartheid era and to create affirmative action policies directed at quickly creating true equality or opportunity.