‘We were not part of apartheid’: rationalisations used by four white pre-service teachers to make sense of race and their own racial identities
Despite fundamental reforms to South African education, large performance gaps still prevail between former black schools and former white schools. Nineteen years into a democracy and education in post-apartheid South Africa still retains a strong racial dimension between poorer communities and more affluent communities. Differential access to power and privilege in postapartheid South Africa is the logical consequence of a racialised society, and the latter constitutes the context in which pre-service students have to make sense of their racialised subjectivities that ultimately affect their decisions and active agency to bringing about a less polarised society. In this paper, Bonilla-Silva’s structural theory of racism is used as a theoretical lens to unpack the rationalisations used by four white pre-service teachers to make sense of race and their own racial identities. By claiming that they were not part of apartheid, the participants use various rationalisations to provide them with information to maintain a belief in white innocence in racism and to disengage them from structural racism.
Keywords: Bonilla-Silva; race; racial identity; structural theory of racism; teacher education; white pre-service teachers
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