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  • After waiting 20 minutes to order drinks and getting nowhere, Tinashe was fed up and frustrated. “Wait here babe, I’ll go try to order them”. Said Julia.
    This simple frustration about ordering drinks was how Julia and her boyfriend’s night began as they walked into the local bar, Bohemia, on a beautiful South African night. It would quickly escalade to being about a lot more than just slow bartenders on a crowded night.
    “Excuse me! Two Black Labels please?” Julia asked.
    “I’m sorry Miss, we can’t serve you that” stated the bartender.
    Noticing Julia’s puzzled look, he continued, “You’re boyfriend is black.” And walked away.
  • Completely shocked and taken aback, Julia stood there stunned, confused and hurt. After a minute, she gathered herself, walked back to the table, grabbed Tinashe’s hand and walk out.

    Julia knew the history of South Africa, but she also knew that the country had come a long way since the times of Apartheid. Never did she think that she would experience this racism, this hurtfulness, so first hand, so blatant, so honest in her face…and either did I.

    Although this incident did not directly involve me, it forced me to take a step back and appreciate the world in which I live and the equality that has always surrounded me. Based on how much this incident shocked me, it made me aware of the high expectations that I have for myself, for other individuals, and for society as a whole.
    Taking myself out of the equation, it is interesting to see how other’s – white and black South Africans, Americans, and other nationalities – view the situation. It shows how removed my beliefs and social norms are compared to others’ because of the society in which I was raised.

    The action is the hardest part of this incident. Seeing as I was a visitor, an outsider coming into another country and another culture, I was unsure as to how much I could really place myself in this situation and how far I could act without being invasive and overstepping boundaries. Especially considering the amount of times I had heard people talk about outsiders coming in to their country and trying to “fix it”, I did not know what my place should be in this dilemma. Considering all aspects and circumstances, my friends and I informed everyone we knew of the incident. We would not again go to Bohemia, and we asked that they all do the same if they believed in what we were standing for. We also told our friend’s Afrikaans boyfriend who worked at the bar about the incident and suggested that he have something done about it.
    If this incident happened again, I’m not sure how I would act. If in my home country, I would stand up for what I believe in in a stronger way. I would have my voice be heard to the maximum and not care about the consequences. I do wish that I had done more about this incident, I wish I would have made a greater impact, but I am still unsure as to what exactly I should have done. What would be the right way to go about this situation with the greatest impact and least damage?
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