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South Africa Pencil Test by Beth Consetta Rubel

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During the system of apartheid in South Africa, one drop of sub-Saharan blood was not enough to be considered black. South African law maintained a major distinction between those who were black and those who were coloured. When it was unclear from a person’s physical appearance which racial classification they belonged to, the pencil test was employed. This involved inserting a pencil in a person’s hair to determine if the hair was kinky enough for the pencil to get stuck.1819 If the pencil remained stuck in a person’s hair, the person was “black”. This type of test was used by authorities during the apartheid era in South Africa to “ascertain” a person’s race (see Coloured and Passing (racial identity).) In the absence of any centralized method, this and other subjective tests were used in various places across South Africa as part of the Population Registration Act of 1950. A pencil would be placed in a person’s hair, if it fell through they were classified as “White” (or “Coloured”, depending on other subjective classification considerations); if the pencil did not fall through, they were classified differently (“Coloured” or “Black”, also depending on other subjective classification considerations). Members of the same family who had different hair textures would find themselves in different race groups as a result of this test. This presented serious consequences for many families

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  • neogolas
    neogolasover 5 years ago

    Very creative love your Art.

    SHOHUNTover 5 years ago

    Love your work, I also love to story behide it.

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