09 August, 2014

Foot In the Mouth Syndrome Maybe?

Blackface  used in performance
Thandi Bombi
Foot in the Mouth Syndrome is an illness that may not actually exist but tends to get the everyday individual cringing from time to time. This is when an individual says or does something that they regret, something considered insulting, stupid or hurtful. The reason why this illness is of great concern is because of the way things are received by the people who hear it. Initially this illness was associated with double meaning blunders and silly mistakes but a binge of ignorance has resulted in an increase of this usually harmless disease taking more away from individuals than anything of the sort should. 

Not sure where this is going?
The latest way people enjoy the concept of Blackface
Two white students photographed in domestic worker outfits and smeared with black paint have been on headlines all week and since been kicked out of their campus residence at the University of Pretoria.

There is a country wide uproar on whether or not this picture that is making its rounds is actually a form of racism or blatant ignorance that has landed two students out of residence and in the public eye.

In post-apartheid South Africa one would assume that it is within the interest of everyone to respect each other’s differences and practice a form of cultural sensitivity. The idea of blackface is particularly offensive to people of colour because it is associated with a form of theatrical make up used by 19th century performers to represent a black person. This make up was used to contribute to the stereotypes of the happy- go- lucky “darky” on the plantation. This form of discrimination was ruled out in the United States by the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s.

That is just one of the many possible reasons why this image could be considered offensive. The main problem about this whole saga is that we do not actually know the context of this picture so we will never know its true intention.

The only thing that is certain is whether or not these girls were portraying an ‘innocent’ joke or projecting their racist beliefs, any person over the age of 18 who is South African and aware of our political past should really know better.

The country is desperately trying to move to a time where all races live among one another equally. The first step was to abolish racial oppression. The effects of that period of oppression however, have left huge gaps between upper, middle and lower income homes. If someone ignores that this is still a sensitive issue they are probably going to end up with a huge foot lodged in the back of their throats.

To the girls with foot in the mouth syndrome…

Get well soon.  

No comments: