Powerful photos from a South African university riot.

They call it a "black tax."

For black South Africans, it means that if you have a job, some of your earnings should go to your struggling family.

It's not a government-instituted fee, but more of a deeply entrenched cultural responsibility set upon young black citizens.


Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

This idea of paying it forward is certainly well-meaning, but it can trap young people in a discouraging cycle of poverty. Many are happy to support their families but often have to set aside their personal ambitions to do so.

Black students in South Africa see one opportunity to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty: education.

So when universities announced that tuition fees would continue to rise ... this happened.

Photo by Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images.

This is a protest outside the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, locally referred to as "Wits."

Photo by Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images.

Things turned violent, and after the alleged harassment of university staff members, the police were deployed to the scene, where they used tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades against the protesters.

Photo by Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images.

Cars were flipped, rocks thrown, fists swung, and at least two students were arrested.

Photo by John Wessels/AFP/Getty Images.

What you're seeing isn't just a riot — it's the result of an economic pressure cooker and decades of systematic oppression.

Less than 30 years ago, South Africa lived under apartheid — a set of laws and systems that kept black South Africans physically separated from whites.

Photo by Keystone/Getty Images.

Apartheid ended in the 1990s under Nelson Mandela, but racial tensions and inequities didn't just disappear. In fact, racial economic disparity has grown since the end of apartheid, and black income has nearly flat-lined.

Add to that the notion that education may soon become financially inaccessible to many, and the result is a palpable anger.

Photo by Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images.

Americans know some of this pressure, too, because many young people are buried in student loans, and tens of millions graduate with debt.

In the U.S., students have to lean heavily on government loans to attend college. Then they graduate with, on average, $35,000 in debt and little to no job opportunities. Student debt is the single largest debt in America, and it's still growing.

There's no excuse for violence, but the anger is understandable.

Photo by Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images.

There have been several proposed solutions to student debt, and it's been one of the many key issues discussed in the 2016 presidential election.

Plans range from forgiving loans to lowering interest rates to even making tuition-free colleges. All of those proposals have pros and cons, but one thing is clear: A college education is now practically necessary for success in our society, and something needs to be done to make it affordable.

A student debt protest in California in 2012. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

After that, economic growth needs to continue so the millions of people who graduate college every year have somewhere to take their skills and a feasible economic ladder to climb.

You can only put so much financial burden on young people while simultaneously cutting opportunity before something boils over.

Most Shared
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
LUSH

Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

Keep Reading Show less
Planet
Photo by Annie Bolin on Unsplash

Recent tragic mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have sparked a lot of conversation and action on the state level over the issue of gun control. But none may be as encouraging as the most recent one, in which 145 CEOs signed a letter urging the U.S. Senate to take action at their level.

Keep Reading Show less
popular