When I was in my college history class, I was taught apartheid was “apart-hood” and it brought to my developing mind a vivid picture of painful “separateness” for all people.
My first memories of racial division came as a kindergarten student in the Denver Public Schools. My parents bought a house in the Denver city limits specifically because it was 1 block from an elementary school. However, the school was deemed to be too white, so when “desegregation laws” were passed, it was decided the kids in my neighborhood would be bussed 45 minutes each way to a different school so that the races would be more mixed. Conversely, black inner city kids and hispanic farm migrant kids would be bussed into the school close by my house. My parents commented that I used to ask often, “Why do I have to get on the stupid bus instead of walking down the street to my own school.”
As a young child in second grade I thought Denver must have been the only place in the world where such a divide could occur, but eventually I learned about South Africa and was re-educated that this was an often repeated world challenge. As a high school student, I remember being amazed at how the white population dominated with apartheid, especially since the coloured in South Africa significantly outnumbered the Brits and Dutch, but were unfortunately repeatedly beaten down psychologically.
Then I read chapter one of my well used book written by Welsh, where I realized mostly the bad about apartheid seemingly has been very recently repeated around the world in general, and in the United States of America in specific.
Impactful words from chapter one jumped off the pages and caught my attention. Words like immigration, racial discrimination, opposition to race mixing, white privilege and English speaking arrogance. I remember all these same comments from my formative school years. However, amazingly and unbelievably the actual phrase “South Africa First”  was coined and used for racial domination and gain.
“South Africa First”–Is it possible our very own President Trump got his slogan “America First” from South Africa’s past? History repeats itself, so maybe. Hopefully you are never going to hear me bad mouth any of our Presidents (I don’t think Scripture allows me to verbally murder any of them even though I might disagree) but, nonetheless, the phrase instantly caught my attention.
Furthermore, our American infamous and not so far past “separate but equal” policies seemed to me to be a failed repeat of the very foundations of apartheid’s apart-hood.
How extremely timely is this book and study of race relations going to be for all of us as we go to South Africa? With NFL players refusing to stand for the Anthem, with police brutality in the news weekly, with racial tensions being broadcast regarding immigration, and the building of the wall. I for one am looking forward to some lively discussions. This timing is pretty perfect in my mind.
Isn’t it also disturbingly interesting the Scriptures were used in the Church’s support of apartheid, specifically the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) of South Africa? “Reference has already been made to the critical role played by the Dutch Reformed churches…their legitimization of apartheid…and remained in alignment with the policy.” 
OUCH! It reminds me of stories I heard of the churches in America supporting slavery. Thank goodness many denominations in South Africa finally got together and adopted resolutions like, “There are no scriptural grounds for a prohibition of mixed marriages.” 
Let me be honest for a moment if you will. I have certainly lived a life of “white privilege” and I am quite sure that I have been insensitive to what other races have been through. My parents absolutely taught me to respect all races and colors of skin! But I undoubtedly have said numerous thoughtless things about others and have not tried to seek real understanding for generations of wrongs.
That is why I have been thankful for my participation in athletics. I believe sports are the largest stage on planet earth for racial integration. I have played on teams where I was the minority, and honestly, it never crossed my mind. All that mattered is what every person could do for the team. If you could make baskets, you were accepted. If you could score goals, let’s play. You could be an Iraqi on the soccer field and that was fine with me as long as you played hard. If you were fast and strong going to the hoop, I respected you, no matter the color of your skin. I remember playing against people who did not speak my language, but it was as if language took a back seat to the competition. For all of the flaws of sports, I must admit they certainly break down barriers. That was very evident to me when watching the movie INVICTUS and marveling how Rugby could actually unite a country besieged by strife. The game achieved far more in my mind than decades of violence.
It blows my mind that we are soon going to Mandela’s cell on Robbin Island. That we will be educated with our own eyes about De Klerk, Tutu and NP/ANC politics. I already feel humbled.
I find myself wanting to apologize for all the injustices, both of mine and for all others. For slavery, for heartless cruelty, for simple ignorance, and for even thinking arrogant thoughts over others. This is a massively complex issue on all sides, but a simple “I’m sorry” might go a long way.
However, I struggle with who would be willing to accept my apology? True reconciliation in my mind involves both a heartfelt apology without saying “but” thereafter, and then the accepting words “I forgive you” soon rendered.
I fully appreciate De Klerk saying, “Let me place once and for all a renewed apology on record. Apartheid was wrong.”  Now where is the acceptance?
Maybe my asking this question reveals just how racially insensitive I am.
 Welsh, David. The Rise and Fall of Apartheid. (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2009). p. 5.
 Ibid., p. 184.
 Ibid., p. 185.
 Ibid., p. 570.