My Race: A Jew­ish Girl Grow­ing up Under Apartheid in South Africa

Lor­raine Lot­zof Abramson
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
The title of this book says it all. Thread­ed through­out My Race is a detailed account of the lives of white, col­ored” (mul­ti-race and Asian), and black Africans, as seen through the eyes of Lor­raine Lot­zof Abram­son and her mid­dle class Ashke­nazi Jew­ish fam­i­ly. Abram­son was only two years old in 1948, when Apartheid was imposed on the coun­try by the new­ly elect­ed Nation­al­ist Par­ty. Like many oth­er Jews in South Africa, her fam­i­ly spoke Eng­lish at home and sided with the think­ing and actions of the more lib­er­al Eng­lish South Africans. They stood in sharp con­trast to the Afrikan­ers or Boers, the descen­dants of the Dutch set­tlers who were the main­stay of the pro-Apartheid rul­ing Nation­al­ist par­ty.

All whites reaped many of the ben­e­fits” of being white in a white suprema­cist soci­ety. As Abram­son astute­ly describes it, the Jews of South Africa were in a unique sit­u­a­tion.” They fled East­ern Europe to escape oppres­sion and arrived in a coun­try where by virtue of their white skin…[they] found them­selves on the same side as the oppres­sors.” South Africa under Apartheid was a police state” ruled with an iron fist.” The Afrikan­ers were Nazi sym­pa­thiz­ers before World War II and their anti-Semi­tism was just under the sur­face. The fact that whites were far out­num­bered by blacks and col­oreds enabled many Jew­ish South Africans to live rel­a­tive­ly peace­ful lives” even though they were col­lec­tive­ly referred to as Die Jode” or The Jews.” This mem­oir pro­vides the read­er with a vivid exam­ple of the diver­si­ty, com­plex­i­ty, and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of the lives of Jews all over the world. Index.
Car­ol Poll, Ph.D., is the retired Chair of the Social Sci­ences Depart­ment and Pro­fes­sor of Soci­ol­o­gy at the Fash­ion Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy of the State Uni­ver­si­ty of New York. Her areas of inter­est include the soci­ol­o­gy of race and eth­nic rela­tions, the soci­ol­o­gy of mar­riage, fam­i­ly and gen­der roles and the soci­ol­o­gy of Jews.

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