My first significant culture bump occurred at the entrance of the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. Our white tour guide Shane, handed me a museum entry ticket emblazoned with “Nie-Blankes/Non-Whites”, and directed me to the entrance for those who were not white. I was not prepared for the emotional turmoil of being segregated and told to use a certain door because of my race. I felt denigrated and embarrassed. I immediately looked around to see who else had been designated the same status. I wondered what others would think of me. I wondered if my experience would be inferior once I entered the “non-white” door. With the one simple act of handing me a ticket, my psyche was impacted for hours to come. Even though apartheid is over, I toured the museum with a sense of empathy for those that endured the physical and emotional brutality of life under an unfair and unequal legal system.
(March 6, 2012)