This is an insightful interview on Mathabane's views of American racism – it's pretty intense stuff and actually provided the inspiration for one of the teaching activities we created. This particular excerpt reveals Mathabane's thoughts on the similarities between black life in America and black life in South Africa under apartheid.
"When I came to the U.S. in 1978, I believed that America had long since resolved its racial problems, that blacks were equal citizens. In many ways, I found that to be true. The U.S. seemed to be a hundred years ahead of South Africa. Then I discovered, to my horror, that not much had changed in people's hearts. White people's attitudes toward blacks have changed very little since the days of lynchings. Without that change, laws are relatively impotent. In many towns, there is a black world and a white world. I told my friends that I did not escape from the bondage of apartheid to end up segregated in America. […]
What was really shocking was discovering that the black world in America resembled the world I had left, the townships of South Africa – the poor buildings, the bad roads, the hopelessness, the rage, the frustration on the faces of the black boys and girls I met. These were the same emotions I felt when I was fighting for my life under apartheid. Everyone in this country is an accomplice to what is happening in the black ghettos of America."