The Elusive Rainbow: Racial Reconciliation in South Africa with Lessons for the United States

Rockefeller Center for Public Policy
September 01, 2022

South Africa is a country of contradictions. Wealthy businessmen of all races often live feet from abject poverty. Multinational businesses happily open up shop alongside a liberation party that governs haphazardly. Many who committed horrific crimes under apartheid walk freely among their victims — in the name of reconciliation. It is a country that bears its scars proudly and talks about them freely, but presently seems unable to do much to heal them.

This policy memo reflects the efforts of the Dartmouth College undergraduate students of PBPL 85, “Topics in Global Policy Leadership,” who were tasked with studying racial reconciliation in South Africa, making policy recommendations for promoting reconciliation, and finding lessons for the U.S. in the Rainbow Nation. For the purposes of this memo, we define racial reconciliation as a goal, an aim characterized by a society where race is no longer a predominant line of division, where economic and social hierarchies and opportunity are not shaped by race, where racial, cultural, and ethnic diversity are celebrated and accepted, and where past racial injustices have been both acknowledged and substantively addressed.

Read the full policy memo at Dartmouth's Rockerfeller Center's website.