BEING South African and black (yes I regard myself as being black not because I am obsessed with race but because of my past and recent experiences).

Last year my daughter and I had to be reminded of our blackness when several white-owned jewellery shops refused her an opportunity to spend some time with their designers.

This was one of the requirements she had to meet as part of her preparation to study jewellery design and manufacturing.

It was only after her white teacher intervened and asked a jeweller she knew to help that my daughter was eventually afforded the opportunity.

Week in and week out I receive press statements from Cosatu complaining about the treatment of black farmworkers by white farmers in areas such as KwaZulu-Natal and North West.

The Human Rights Commission has through its public hearings on racism in the farmland revealed harrowing tales of how white farmers shoot and maim farmworkers and get away with it.

Hardly a month passes without the media reporting a case in which a powerless farmworker has been attacked by a white farmer whose case has been postponed indefinitely.

I remember how, during my childhood, my mother - who was a community nurse - had to treat farmworkers who were severely beaten up by their "baas".

In most cases the perpetrators never faced the wrath of the law simply because they were white or because they were friends with or related to law enforcement agents.

Only this week Cosatu released a statement condemning the continuing attacks on farmworkers by farmers, particularly in the areas of Swartruggens and Lichtenburg in North West.

Cosatu condemned the continuation of attacks, shooting and assaults by farmers on farmworkers and dwellers.

"At Swartruggens a pregnant farmworker was assaulted by a farmer on Monday after having an argument with the supervisor and now she is in a bad condition," Cosatu said in a statement.

"The Swartruggens police station refused to register the case, and opted for a peacemaking approach, which has created a situation of constructive dismissal of a worker, Martha Modisane, who is currently at home."

Those who refuse to face the reality that racism still exists in this country will probably explain these incidents as either "ordinary acts of criminality" or acts by "a lunatic fringe".

This unfortunately equals burying one's head in the sand.

The reality of the situation is that these attacks are racist-related.

They are racist because, despite the advent of democracy in 1994, farmworkers continue to be treated in an inhumane manner.

The reason why the farmers continue to be racist is that, as late Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko would have explained, "they still have the power to subjugate".

Despite the new political dispensation the power relations between farmer and farmworker have not changed.

The power that the farmers continue to have over the farmworkers is simply that they continue to be members of a group that still wields economic power in this country.

They then use that power to express their inherent feelings of superiority over the black workers.

What these incidents are also saying is that despite what happened in 1994, the economic superstructure in this country continues to be anti-black.

And it is in this context that the world remains anti-black and the lives of black farmworkers remain worthless.

Refusing to acknowledge the fact that some of these attacks are racist can only leave the farmworkers - whose livelihood depends on those perpetrating these racists acts - in a dire situation.

Unless these matters are tackled head-on the change that other South Africans speak about will remain a mirage for farmworkers - while they continue to live under the yoke of racism and poverty.