Dean Hutton: message received

2017-01-20 15:54

If it’s not students protesting against varsity fee structures wearing T-shirts with the slogan “F**k white people”, then it’s a white artist in Cape Town who feels pretty much the same.

Dean Hutton’s art piece on exhibit at a museum in Cape Town, doesn’t so much offend me as irritates me. Some see it as a piece of art, meant to provoke white people and get them talking about racism in South Africa, while others see it as a racist and divisive statement.

For me though, it’s not the exhibit in particular that irks me, but what it has come to symbolize in a racially tense country.

When images started appearing on social networks, of protesting students wearing shirts with the slogan “F**k white people”, there was a bit of an uproar from some in the white community, who couldn’t reconcile why this was acceptable when members of the white community had been demonised for similar acts of racism. At the time, I was amused. The reason for my amusement wasn’t the fact that the students donned these shirts like a badge of honour, but the fact that the protests were about free tertiary education, which ultimately whites had no control over.

To take it a step further though, the “F**k white people” T-shirts started changing to “Kill all whites” and other slogans that I’m sure were offensive to many.

Surely, this should have been front page headlines? No?

These cases were dealt with in a very low key manner and were treated with kid gloves.

When questioning why the consequences of promoting hate speech and inciting racial violence wasn’t dealt with as swiftly or severely, as had been the case with Penny Sparrow, white people were told that they just don’t understand black pain or frustration.

This was a very hard pill to swallow for most. And just when we thought that this was just a fad and we had seen the last of it, more people started wearing the shirts, saying the words out loud and pushing the boundaries of hate speech even further.  Were whites correct in their demand for consequences now?

Not yet apparently.

When Julius Malema said that he wasn’t calling for the slaughter of white people – for now, surely there MUST have been a case for whites to feel aggrieved?!?

Still, NO?

You see, for every person who believes that racism is a characteristic unique only to whites, there is another person out there growing bolder by the day, inciting violence based on race, who does so with impunity. What happens when the words, start turning into acts?

When whites get frustrated about it and start asking questions, there is one sure way to get them to shut up and that is by labelling them as racist too.

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