Social media continues to be divided over UP’s Blackface scandal. The outrage was sparked by a picture posted on Facebook depicting two girls posing with what looks like Nutella smeared on their skin, and with pillows stuffed under their skirts to make their bums look bigger. Supposedly, this is what South Africa’s domestic workers look like.
Following the uproar, the picture has since been deleted, and disciplinary steps are being taken against the girls by UP. After initially stating that they would not investigate the case because they had not received a complaint, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has since decided to launch an investigation on its own accord, while keeping a close eye on the outcome of the university’s disciplinary procedures.
Following the Blackface scandal I am appalled by people’s insensitive reaction towards the matter. The fact that people were condoning and justifying these girls’ actions was shocking. People must understand that “black” is not a costume. The girls’ actions were dehumanising and demeaning. It is one thing to play dress up, but to mock the race, heritage and job (an earnest and dignified job) and livelihoods of our mothers, grandmothers and aunts, is not only racist, it is ignorant and inhumane. Not only is Blackface a visual equivalent of a racist joke, but it is part of a tradition of mocking and insulting black people.
We have underestimated the saying “ignorance is bliss” until recently. It is clear that some people in our so called “rainbow nation” are still ignorant when it comes to issues of race. We must say we are very saddened and touched by the picture which went viral on social media, where two female white students posed in domestic worker outfits, with black paint smeared on their faces and arms, as they posed with headscarves and padded bottoms.
This picture ridicules the current situation that most black women in South Africa experience and continues to reinforce racial stereotypes.
I think it is outrageous to regard what those two students did as a racist act. The fact that they did this at a private party shows that they were not intending to incite any public disturbance or to offend anyone. It was merely humour. The fact that their picture went viral was that they were negligent enough to forget that there is really no privacy in social media.
Barbarism in the 21st century is ignorance of your surroundings. We should be dealing with more pressing issues like corruption, murder, education crisis and climate change. Instead of persecuting these girls (or anyone for that matter), proper education on race should be provided.
Following last week’s second quarterly Student Forum meeting, we as AfriForum Youth Tuks representatives, would like to comment on the events that took place during the meeting.
Firstly we would like to thank the President Enwee Human for giving us a thorough report regarding the duties and activities of the SRC and Emile Zitzke of the Constitutional Tribunal for following proper procedure during the meeting.