Racism reform 101

2012-05-08 07:25

David Moseley

What a shock I received when waking yesterday morning to gauge the ongoing moral outrage regarding South Africa’s most tweeted about model.

The new M&G website was tweeted of highly, the new French president Francoise Hollande was conversationally coming in second, Joburg traffic rounded out the top three trends, while something tagged #stargame (sadly, not a Star Wars or Star Trek sequel, but rather a topic concerning Big Brother Africa) had SA in a twizz, as did tags relating to “Europe” and “France”. But no mention of South Africa’s newest enemy of the state; not a whisper, nothing, zip, nada. And like that, poof. She’s gone.

This isn’t about a potty-mouthed kid, though. This isn’t about an ignorant South African who should be sent on a decade’s worth of life skills before being let anywhere near a social networking app again. Rather, this is about the surge in fiery rhetoric regarding racism in South Africa, and the sudden backwash of silence as a day of trending tweets drew to a close.

My contempt for blogs and social networking sites as forces for good knows no limits. Twitter, the saviour of the peaceful Arab world last year, is the biggest joke being played on society at the moment. Sure it’s fun. Yes, it’s a good lark sharing banter amongst your pals and like-minded people. And no doubt, it gets your attention. And then what?

Five seconds of fame

As last week’s harrumphing, and rapidly subsequent non-harrumphing regarding the use of the most heinous word in the English (or any) language showed, Twitter’s users have no staying power. They are the equivalent of a five-year-old child informing you of his finger painting class, only to be distracted by a passing butterfly before getting to the end of the tale. In short, they are unfocussed, easily distracted, and way too trendy to be caught up in anything for longer than the 30 seconds it takes to post a typically self-indulgent and pompous tweet.

Some of the invective was laughable last week, people laying charges with the Human Rights Commission and the like. Good grief. Self-righteous nincompoops with 140 characters in their arsenal, hurling abuse at a similarly gormless nincompoop who’s probably too doff to understand what she’s done.

Did she deserve it? Oh yes. There’s no place for that kind of stupidity and insensitivity in this country or any other. She was rightly named and shamed (though in another, calmer, time and place, we may ask what this kind of public humiliation could do to a 20-year-old child). She was stripped of titles, sponsorship and, most importantly, dignity. Because that’s what she did to this country and it’s people by being such a fool, stripped us of our dignity.

Where’s the change?

But to what effect the online indignation and nationwide outcry? After the outburst, where is the conversation? Where is the actual changing of mindsets?

Apart from hurling abuse and making our feelings felt vociferously and haughtily in a relatively narrow environment (just over one million SA twitter users to 50 million South Africans), where is the repair work coming from after the damage has been done?

Ask yourself. We’ve all been outraged. We’ve said so. The numbskull in question is crucified. And now? How do we make sure it never happens again? How do we ensure that future 20-year-olds, black, white, whatever race or colour, grow up without defaulting to racial slander when the mood tickles them?

I can tell you, Twitter, with its clubhouse of smug know-it-alls, is not the best place for a race debate or resolution finding.

So I’d like to know, what’s actually being done about the elephant in the room in South Africa, that great pussy open sore point that everyone knows about and no one talks about (except in ill-tempered 140 character put downs that do nothing but fan the hatred)?

Is race up for discussion in classrooms, at universities or company feel-good sessions? Are satirists taking to the stage to open peoples minds, is government putting money or clout behind systems, education or gatherings that address the past effectively (ie not changing street names, but rather attitudes)...and if they’re not, why not?

Granted, bloggers and twittavists get you talking. But once the talking stops, what happens next? Actions will wake people up. Actions will change lives. So what actions do we take to create a country where everyone is just a South African, and not a black, Indian, coloured or white South African?

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

Send your comments to David

News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24

  • Charles Dumbwin - 2012-05-08 07:42

    David we need to discuss the types of actions needed through the various 'ranks' of South Africans. We, the people on the ground, can take all the right actions to stay on track where we all accept each other and choose to nation build, but within the political ranks, it only takes one r@cist idiot to stand on a platform and tear all that good work down again, inciting segregation and violence amongst South Africans. We need to fix the rot at the top. As they say, sh#t flows downhill ...

      BergieSean - 2012-05-08 13:14

      The problem with you Charles, is that when you talk about the "top" you mean god.

      James - 2012-05-08 21:14

      Merkel, Cameron. Sarkozy recently admitted that Multi Culturism is not working in EU/UK. People gravitate towards their own kind.

      stevie0064 - 2012-05-09 14:29

      @Charles Two questions: 1. Why do you spell racist with an "@" symbol? 2. What do you propose to "fix the rot"?

  • Manu - 2012-05-08 07:46

    Actually I thought it was quite therapuetic and it provided a barometer of sorts for attitudes toward race and racism in SA.

      BergieSean - 2012-05-08 13:15

      Am inlined to much is swept under the carpet in SA. Maybe be we need a special day for venting, when we go online and have a nice big racial mudslinging match and then have a good laugh about it afterwards.

  • Tc - 2012-05-08 09:15

    David, Do I sense an element of politcal correctless in your posting with your normal tsunami of adverbs and adjectives? Your message is correct, but with a hint of one-sidedness. Heed against being labelled 'dishonest'. But your message of 'address racism' is correct. But, it mus be addressed across the spectrum and from the top-down. What hope do you have if the heart of the governing party is rotten with racism? Persons like Manyi, Mbalula, Mothlanthe, etc, etc! As a non-Black I look at the ANC and see 'RACISM' printed boldly in red across it.

  • NinetiethOwl - 2012-05-08 09:46

    Seems I'm a little in the dark. What was the original article which this piece refers to?

      Vaaldonkie - 2012-05-08 09:57

      The fact that we are "in the dark".

      Deon - 2012-05-08 10:39

      It was all about the white model's "dark" remarks when she bumped into someone in a shop.

      Vaaldonkie - 2012-05-08 13:05

      Some people don't get "dark" humour.

      Koos - 2012-05-09 03:05

      It is well know fact that only whites can be racists. We had a saying in the SADF: Black is beautyful but it looks ugly on the dark.

  • Pagel - 2012-05-08 11:14

    This is your best article ever. People should re-learn to apply themselves, think (not only take anything written on the internet as the truth) and plan. We live in a era of instant gratification that is not sustainable.

  • Mike - 2012-05-08 12:40

    Geez Dave I think that you are jumping on the p.c. bandwagon and being far too harsh on this young "numbskull" girl. I expected more sympathy from you. I think that the "crime" of calling someone names deserves fair punishment - perhaps guidance,counselling or community service - not the loss of career and earnings.

  • keith.recore - 2012-05-08 17:32

    If you or your readers figure out the "cure" for people in South Africa being simply seen as South African, w/out all the usual adjectives such as black, indian, coloured etc. patent whatever it gets humans to just see a person, because this model could possibly work for not seeing muslim, christian, jew ets.. Cetainly South Africa has the capability to figure it out by examining the "wound" and taking action. All too often, no matter the needed social topic, once it runs the news cycle, it disappears w/out further action, to be consumed by the day's newest social topic. Noticeably, racism thrives with a poor economy, blocks to education and the frustration manifests sometimes under the racism guise.

  • John Mphande - 2012-05-08 21:07

    A 20 year old is no kid. It's her style, look at her history.

      Koos - 2012-05-09 03:11

      Let's look at the history of the person that made her speak her mind. It is your brother from a different mother. Who are the number one rapists in the country? Who sleeps with anything and everything that is moving, including goats and chickens? If she was a member of the ancESTORAL youth band it would have being a non event.

      Paul - 2012-05-09 14:40

  • bfvillet - 2012-05-08 23:57

    Shame David Mosely that is the only way that i can describe it. very good relevant points raised by you i personally think that twitter and the comments sections of news 24 are just not the platforms where serious and meaningfull debates can be had as is again born out by the comments on your article the responses are normally overtly aggresive insensetive and not condusive to positive debate.Thus i believe that these platforms are for people to state their views and defend them and rarly leads to a change in those beliefs they so aggresivly defend.Furhermore a lot is happening in schools universities and other institutions to change attitudes however little is happening in the home to adress these issues

      Koos - 2012-05-09 05:12

      Wait until the new enrollment procedure for universities comes into effect. That is another forced integration attempt in the making.

  • RES.AntiPollution - 2012-05-09 12:33

    Start with removing racist laws like BBE and perviously disadvantaged, racist discrimination like sports quotas etc...try improving the state of education, give equal opportunities to well, it was worth a try :-)great country, proudly south african sic

  • Paul - 2012-05-09 14:36

    Why is'nt this guy in the headlines?

      Koos - 2012-05-10 00:32

      because he is a dark?

  • billidp - 2012-05-10 12:48

    Well HERE is one thing that IS being done

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