Introduction (12)

Introduction (12)

Book Review

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Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela follows the extraordinary story of Nelson Mandela’s life. It is a story about his setbacks, struggles, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph of the globally revered human rights icon. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is one of the greatest political and moral leaders of his time. Mandela is an international hero who was dedicated to the fight against apartheid in South Africa, an act that won him the title of president of his country and the Nobel Peace Prize (Herzog, & Román, 2015). After his release from a 27- year jail term in 1990, he found himself at the center of inspiring and most compelling political drama in the world. As head of the African National Congress and anti-apartheid policy, he played a pivotal role in steering South Africa towards majority rule and multiracial government. On the other hand, Race, Gender, and Punishment: From Colonialism to the War on Terror documents the disproportionate representation of black Americans within the U. S criminal justice system and the beliefs and entrenched system that shape punishment among other social control forms today. Specifically, the book talks about the cultural and structural forces which continue to influence and further perpetuate racial discrimination. This essay highlights the relationship between race and colonialism, gender and race, social control, and immigration. Further, it examines social punishment on a global scale, Mandela’s message about race, and the promotion of global peace through Mandela’s example.

Racism and Colonialism

The aspects of race and colonialism are evident in the texts. Their interaction has to do with the unequal treatment of particularly the people of color within their respective environments. Notably, in the United States and South Africa, the practices of punishment were not equal. Different races were treated differently, but in most situations, the white people received preferential treatment. This was informed by the notion that white people were better than others because they came to colonize other countries. In South Africa, apartheid had become a norm, with Americans treating the native people, particularly racial minority as outcasts. In the Long Walk to Freedom, we experience Mandela’s brush at the hands of white settlers. In the biography, Mandela’s description of his tenure in prison cells is disheartening. He received a life sentence on charges of inciting people to strike in 1961. Mandela reported that the conditions under which he was living as uninhabitable; he carried out backbreaking labor and slept in tiny cells. All the torture he underwent resulted from the apartheid policies that gained massive support and influence from politicians, including Daniel Malan Francois, who was responsible for implementing the nadir of African freedoms.

How Slavery Highlights Race and Gender

Both texts reveal that there is an interrelationship between slavery and gender and race. This is because, to some extent, the gender and the ethnicity of a person determine their fate. With regard to freedom, Mandela explains that he was convicted of inciting people to strike, but close examination reveals that underlying factors, including his race, fueled the determination of his opponents to convict him. In the 1960s, there was rampant racial discrimination across South Africa. The white colonialist had taken over leadership, and they disregarded the rights of racial minorities such as black people. In fact, at the time, the situation was so critical to the extent that Africans were denied access to some spaces, and they had been confined to living in specific locations while the white settlers who were in authority had the freedom to access and live in places of their choice. This kind of treatment was gendered and discriminative in all forms. Additionally, text from Race, Gender, and Punishment shows that punishment practices in the United States are racist and engendered. Considering the United States’ racist history, it is evident that colonizers shaped the justice systems in a way that is unfair to the subjects, particularly people of color and women, hence subjecting them to slavery. The colonizers had the notion that painted their culture as superior. As a result, the justice system ended up criminalizing and giving people of color and men favorable treatment compared to their counterparts who are not people of color.

Immigration and Social Control

Immigration is related to social control because it shapes the attitudes and perceptions of the people in society, including the community and police. The text from Race, Gender, and Punishment points out that in U. S. policing, factors such as immigration status, race, and ethnicity influence how the law is enforced. With the current populations of immigrant groups on the rise, the legal authorities face the challenge of fully enforcing the law. Worth noting that individuals who identify as minority groups such as African Americans, Hispanics, and others are disproportionately affected by the negative perception and stereotypes. This has to do with the past experiences that law enforces have with these particular groups of people. For instance, there’s the notion that people of color are criminal offenders because they comprise the majority of convicted fellows. Because of their history and these social perceptions, some ethnicities not originally from the U.S are subject to unfair treatment within the justice systems, hence controlling their freedom.

Social Punishment on a Global Scale

On a global scale, social punishment, also referred to as a social sanction, is a mechanism through which individuals within cooperation use some of their resources to punish defectors. Social punishments arise from norms that are found within a give a given society. Within a given society, punishments are used in controlling society. For instance, prisons’ existence is entirely for maintaining law and order where defiant people are punished by being denied freedom. In essence, any sanction is a reaction from one person towards a group or an individual’s behavior. Social punishment is any means by which confirmation of standards that have been socially approved is conformed. Social punishments can be negative and positive. When a person’s action conforms to normative expectations, we are rewarded, and while failure to meet expectations leads to negative sanctions in the form of punishment. It is important to note that different norms carry different sanctions because of their importance in different cultures is not equal. Essentially, rewards and punishments are definite expressions of group approval.

Mandela’s Message on Racism

Concerning the discussion about racism, Mandela brought the message that to be free is not merely to cast one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others (Nokele, 2015). Mandela spent all his life-fighting injustice and racism. Notably, Mandela’s will power and political principle to rebel against white supremacy apartheid in South Africa motivated people struggling for an equal and fair world. He spent 27 years of his life in prison for rebelling against apartheid. This followed his realization that the only way to eliminate white supremacy was by the use of force. He maintained that the lack of dignity that Africans went through was a direct result of white supremacy policies. His struggle represented a true struggle experienced by African people, and it was inspire by suffering and experience. Mandela remained committed to ideals of a free society to the extent that he was prepared to die for this cause if need be.

Peace Promotion Using Mandela as an Example

We can promote global peace by following in Mandela’s footsteps as a dedicated and true advocate of equality and justice. He put his people’s interests before his own and was prepared to even die in his fight against racial discrimination. Like Mandela, we can contribute to the promotion of global peace by forming commissions designed to help violators and victims of human rights violations address their past. Further, we should encourage our governments to be transparent in all their dealings and to keep watch on their actions by calling them out on their wrongs. This way, we will encourage restorative justice for many nations whose past are marred with racial discrimination and injustice.


Issues of racism and differential treatment cut across the history of not South Africa and the United States as contextualized by the two books; they affect many countries. Long Walk to Freedom is about Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, one of the greatest political and moral leaders. He is an international hero who was dedicated to the fight against apartheid in South Africa, an act that won him the title of president of his country and the Nobel Peace Prize. Race, Gender, and Punishment: From Colonialism to the War on Terror follows the disproportionate representation of black Americans within the U. S criminal justice system and the beliefs and entrenched system that shape punishment among other social control forms today. We can borrow a leaf from Nelson Mandela’s legacy in his fight for equal treatment. We need to stand up against discrimination in all its forms because we are all equal, and nobody deserves preferential treatment moreso on the grounds of racism.


Nokele, A. B. B. (2015). Translating conceptual metaphor in Mandela’s Long walk to freedom: a cross-cultural comparison (Doctoral dissertation, University of South Africa).

Herzog, B., & Román, E. (2015). Revoking citizenship: expatriation in America from the colonial era to the war on terror (Vol. 9). NYU Press.