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  • Thandiwe Ntshinga

Black Twitter, we salute you; anti-racism contributions by Black social media users.

If you don’t know local model Bianca Schoombee then that’s okay. I didn’t know about her either. That is, of course, until the beginning of the demise of her career this week with the announcement of the withdrawal of her application to the upcoming Miss South Africa beauty pageant. Yesterday, when I woke up to a morning social media scroll my feed was alight with posts on 21-year-old Schoombee and her former racially ignorant indiscretions that have now caught up with her. The controversy is this: old racist tweets.

Thanks to the due diligence of Black twitter users, tweets where the model had used the n-word have surfaced and have made their rounds. After receiving an appropriate amount of criticism, Schoombee has been compelled to apologise for tweets from six years ago and has deactivated her account. Furthermore, her representative modelling agency SYNC Models has gone from defending their client online to announcing that they support her withdrawal and have deleted their own tweets that once defended Schoombee.

Thank you, Black Twitter, for your service!

Bianca Schoombee should have known better. South African history was made in 2016 when Vicki Momberg was arrested and sentenced to two years imprisonment, for an irate racist rant where she hurled the K-word an astonishing 48 times, towards a Black police officer in a video that went viral. That same year, now deceased, Penny Sparrow was brought down when she was arrested and found guilty for hate speech in her infamous Facebook post where she likened Black people to monkeys. Two years ago, having learnt nothing from these two womxn, Adam Catzavelos, saw the wrath of South African anti-racism where, in all his racist glory, his recorded racism landed him with two options; a fine of R50 000 or two years imprisonment. In his Greek beach holiday video, Catzavelos gleefully remarked that there was “not one k****r in sight, f*cking heaven on Earth…You cannot beat this”. Thanks to the tireless workings of Black social media users these racists were called to order.

The new new South Africa-crimen injurea

Racism is, arguably, the one aspect of society that South Africa is most renowned for. South Africa’s historic—and contemporary—structural and institutional racism persists in occupying the global imagination. It is what allows white people outside South Africa to believe that their own racism is incomparable. However, contrary to popular belief, things are changing- somewhat. With our progressive, pro-human constitution, South African law is unlike other countries. Under South African common law crimen injuria, defined as the act of “unlawfully, intentionally and seriously impairing the dignity of another”, racism is a punishable offence. Racist rants have become intolerable and Black social media users are holding down the fort.

"These monkeys that are allowed to be released on New Year’s eve and New

Year’s day on to public beaches towns etc obviously have no education what

so ever so to allow them loose is inviting huge dirt and troubles and discomfort

to others.

I’m sorry to say that I was amongst the revellers and all I saw were black on

black skins what a shame. I do know some wonderful and thoughtful black

people. This lot of monkeys just don’t want to even try. But think they can

voice opinions and get their way oh dear.

From now on I shall address the blacks of South Africa as monkeys as I see

the cute little wild monkeys do the same, pick and drop litter"

-Penny Sparrow, Facebook

Predictably, white South Africans have not been happy with the dismantling of their whiteness. The century-old defender of white supremacy, white-interest group Solidarity Movement, has been at the forefront of white displeasure with South Africa’s changing political landscape. In a hilariously titled report, Racism, hate speech and double standards: Not a simple black and white matter published by the Solidarity Research Institute, two researchers superficially attempt a colourblind analysis of racial discrimination where the article suggests that ‘enabled by the soapbox that social media offers, racists of all colours and stripes stereotypes and abuse people of other races'. The article provides an analysis of responses and coverage to case studies divided into two groups-white and Black. The findings that are shared with the public point to a racial discrepancy that—for once—holds white people accountable. Following the neo-liberal rhetoric of 'minority rights' that the Solidarity Movement forces, the researchers claim that “definite pronouncements were made on minorities [white people]” by Black people. Moreover, they assert that “from the case studies we see that there is widespread racial discrimination against minorities […] This systemic racial discrimination against white people is creating a climate where it is becoming dangerously common to apply racial discrimination against minorities.” LOL.

Failing to grapple with a democratic institution that does the work to disassemble white dominance, the Human Rights Commission is accused of being “asleep” as the “watchdog over race relations in South Africa”. According to Solidarity’s research, HRC is one-sided and unbalanced, influenced by media and politicians that allow “low-level white racists [to be] made an example of, while the vertical influence of racist Black opinion-makers is not addressed”. “We see the result of this in the social media reactions of white and Black becoming more scathing”, they continue. Again, LOL.

White cries of double-standards and reverse-racism can be entertaining in its absurdity. They find social media problematic in persecuting racists. I, on the other hand, support the contributions of Black social media users who participate in critical whiteness, anti-racism and social justice. That there are repercussions to racism is unproblematic, in my opinion. Perhaps, we would all be a lot further if crimen injurea was an international law?


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