“Race” and the Constitution: A South African perspective

For a South African constitutional lawyer, watching from afar, the current debate in Germany on the removal of the word “race” from section 3 of article 3 of the German Basic Law, is perplexing. In the South African context, a similar call would widely be viewed as a regressive step aimed at protecting white privilege and reinforcing the social and economic dominance of the white minority. The South African and German contexts and histories differ, and the word “race” might have different connotations in German than it has in English, but it may nevertheless be of interest to consider why the words “race”, “racial” and “non-racialism” are mentioned in several provisions of the South African Constitution.

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