#DeadPose raises deeper, darker issues

2017-01-15 06:03
Wanelisa Xaba

Wanelisa Xaba

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I first encountered pictures of the #DeadPoseChallenge on my Facebook newsfeed last Sunday morning.

Being a University of Cape Town student, I was deeply triggered by the two photos of young, black women pretending to hang themselves, especially in light of the huge number of suicides that have occurred while I have been studying there.

I quickly blocked the post and any subsequent pictures of people pretending to be dead as the hashtag went viral. Everything about it made my skin crawl.

I wondered whether the #DeadPoseChallenge was raising deeper questions around blackness and social death under white supremacy?

At the very least, the trend of posting fake pictures of oneself dead on social media is insensitive. To the people who have discovered their loved ones hanging from a rope.

To the ones dealing with the sudden death of a loved one in a car accident. Or to anyone who is anxious and triggered by graphic content containing suicide and death.

South Africa is a traumatised nation – from colonial residue, current apartheid and an ANC militarised state – and therefore desensitised to violence unless it’s inflicted on white bodies.

I mean, at seven years old I witnessed a man beating up his girlfriend with a wooden plank spiked with nails and at 10 I had already witnessed someone getting stabbed.

This hashtag must be condemned because it has hurt many people, opening up old wounds as it lurks on our social media.

Call me fake deep, but for me this hashtag is also symbolic for blackness living under white supremacy in South Africa. It has opened up many questions about the state of blackness and social death in post-apartheid South Africa.

Every day I navigate South African spaces that require me to die or leave my blackness at the door in order for me to beat the system.

Is this how young, black people are feeling in South Africa? Dead? Is this hashtag symbolic for the different ways in which white supremacy kills off our humanity?

And is this hashtag the avenue in which young, black people are expressing their subconscious desires to die?

A desire not to exist in a system where they are socially stratified as nonbeings or objects to advance white capital?

When one draws into coloniality as a paradigm that deconstructs the world as a Euro/US, patriarchal, capitalist, white supremacist zone – which centres white humanity as the norm – one cannot help but draw on Afropessimism, which characterises blackness as a nonentity.

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