Category Archives: South Africa

Racists Ramifications Ring Out Around the World

We know that racism, sexism and discrimination are still around. Despite the world of the 21st century being a connected, technological wonderland, these archaic issues are prominent today. So, when these wildly debated issues come up in our highly connected world, it’s easy for the entire globe takes notice.

The social networking site Twitter has grown to become a common place for news, debates, and information around the clock. Recently, the “#Woke” campaign has caught the attention of millions. The idea behind the movement encourages becoming aware of everyday controversies (or being “woke” to them), such as racism, sexism, gender issues and more. The movement has garnered a strong following, and early this January in South Africa, that following had a new topic to discuss.

Right at the start of the new year, KwaZula-Natal real estate Penny Sparrow angered millions with a highly controversial post on Facebook. While it’s tradition for many people around the world to celebrate New Year’s Day bay the sea, Sparrow complained specifically about about the crowds on her local beach. She notes a “discomforting” amount of litter and “black on black skins,” remarking further on the beach goers’ apparent “no education whatsoever.” In just a few days, the comment drew international attention, and she has since posted an apology on her Facebook account as well.

But the comments made by Sparrow aren’t just offensive; they carry potentially legal fallout. Brenda Wardle is a legal analyst and the Chief of Operations for the Wardle College of Law. She notes that “… free speech or even freedom of expression, unlike human dignity, is limited by specific clauses in the constitution.” The South African Democratic Alliance has since cut ties with Sparrow, and filed criminal charges against her.

Wardle’s understanding of human rights and their protection under law has made her an advocate for social justice. “Simply put,” she points out, “she unlawfully, intentionally and seriously impaired the dignity of black people by using racially offensive language.” She has taken to multiple social media platforms to address growing concerns of racism and other social injustices.

In addition to the legal ramifications, several people close to Sparrow have been targeted by angered activists. Charmaine Crowie (Sparrow’s daughter) and Jawitz Property (Sparrow’s former employer) have both made statements saying that they don’t share Sparrow’s views. However, for the people of South Africa, it’ll take more than words to heal this wound.

Balancing Rights Against Freedom Through Woke Twitter

Social and political awareness has found a voice. That voice is manifesting itself in the form of a movement that is taking aggressive action against those that they feel are committing cries of racism. Watching social media posts for what is believed to be insensitive, against the dignity of people because of race, religion or gender is how Woke Twitter is taking a stand against crimes of dignity.

Out of Cape Town South Africa three such perpetrators have been identified. The issue for some is how this new movement is causing irreparable harm to people like the three identified in the real world. People are losing their jobs, their form of self support and their viable way to feed their families.

While any are beginning to take notice of this new movement, it does leave some questions unanswered. Legal analysts, like Brenda Wardle worry about the implications that this movement will have on basic human dignity and rights. She has spent many years aiding the less fortunate in protecting their rights in the workforce, and the community as a whole.

She states that while Woke Twitter is a new idea and does bring to light many racist and derogatory remarks that should not be tolerated in any situation, she also feels that these individuals, in defending those who have been victims are further dehumanizing them. She sites some statements that likens these victims to monkeys in a jungle.

Another aspect of grave concern is the repercussions on the children of those accused. One such child was receiving threatening phone calls because of posts her mother had made. Ms. Wardle, and other activists do not feel that this is the right thing to do. Te best way to deal with the issue of racism is not to terrorize young children.

The key is that while people do have the right to state their own opinion, it should not take precedence to others rights and opinions. The Woke Twitter community feel that more whites in South Africa need to take a stand and speak out on the injustices that are happening all around them.

The online community involved in this situation seems to only offer the advice of staying aware of what is happening. This does not address the racist remarks, nor who gets to make the determination if they are racist at all. Will harmony someday ensue? It will take time to know for sure.

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