5 January 2016

South Africa: It's 2016 and Racists Must Be Schooled

Photo: Gerd Altmann
Penny Sparrow's daughter Charmaine Cowrie has said she fears for her life after her mother's viral social media comments resulted in death threats (file photo).

South Africans have had enough - they're calling out racists where they see them, most often on social media. And racists would do well to check their privacy settings - or, you know - not be racist. AAISHA DADI PATEL explains.

The Big Days are gone, Dezemba has faded into Januworry but damn, Black Twitter's got no holiday hangover. And the country is all the better for it. Racists all over the country will feel less complacent after the schooling dished out to the likes of Penny Sparrow, Chris Hart and others.

This is how it began.

On Sunday evening, South African actor Hlomhla Dandala highlighted a Facebook post by KZN estate agent Penny Sparrow in which she decried the use of public beaches by black people and also, referred to black people as "monkeys".

If u'r looking for property, especially if u r black/a monkey, pls contact this lady. She's very good. pic.twitter.com/oVP0QclnpL -- HlomlaTheBae (@HlomlaDandala) January 3, 2016

Outrage at Sparrow's comments poured in, and the hashtag #PennySparrow trended for hours.

At the same time, chief Standard Bank strategist Chris Hart tweeted that calls for return of land is the result of a sense of "entitlement", and referred to such a call as a "poisonous ideology". Hart also bemoaned the way that 'minorities' (i.e. white people) are treated - and questioned the existence of white privilege...

More than 25 years after Apartheid ended, the victims are increasing along with a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities... . -- Chris Hart (@chrishartZA) January 3, 2016

Poisonous ideologies are flourishing - I have been retweeting some of them. Economies are never built on entitlement but on productivity -- Chris Hart (@chrishartZA) January 3, 2016

The vitriol is expected. All about 'white privilege' apartheid beneficiary. But nothing about building the economy -- Chris Hart (@chrishartZA) January 3, 2016

... which was ironic, as tweeps pointed out as they questioned how Hart got to the position that he did without [it would appear] having the relevant qualifications.

Chris Hart is Chief Strategist @StandardBankZA w/ a matric. Graduates are packing groceries. #IveBeenHereFor30Years is our biggest issue! -- Outside Inner Monkey (@ZimmiSoshankane) January 4, 2016

Funny how wypipo are tip toeing around Chris Hart's lack of education for what he does. But they always have lot's to say about Zuma. -- Ayesha Rice (@nosiey_) January 4, 2016

Hi @StandardBankZA i see chris has a matric& u made him investment head. I have 2 BSc degrees from wits, iD like to chair your Board. Pls DM -- BeigeTheColour (@BeigeTheColour) January 4, 2016

But tweeps had had enough, and were unapologetic in calling out the racism that they were seeing.

Not in the business of praising white people who aren't racist. I'm not going to thank you for treating me like a human, sorrynotsorry. ✌🏾 -- Black Queen. (@MissRapotu) January 4, 2016

Black anger isn't racism. It's a response to racism. Don't derail us with illogical arguments -- Sanelisiwe Jantjies (@SasaJantjies) January 4, 2016

Our friends who were protesting for Zuma to fall are hella quiet right now. -- slim thug (@Armely_) January 4, 2016

Tired of a system that has long oppressed them, Twitter demonstrated no chill and even made Sparrow's personal details public.

Penolope Dorah Sparrow 4712300016082 Addr: 15 magpie street, Kensington 63 David road, scottburgh 90A park ryne scottburgh #PennySparrow -- Naza (@Naza_MilYing) January 4, 2016

Another tweep even paid the Sparrow family a visit.

Charmaine's husband is a sober man, he says he can't defend a grown woman's "stupid statements" #PennySparrow -- LL Cool Razo (@Mtamerri) January 4, 2016

Sparrow's daughter Charmaine Cowrie told News24 that she had spoken to her mother, who said that "she didn't mean anything [by the Facebook post] and she doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. It's just litter, paper on the ground."

Sparrow later defended her comments herself, telling News24 "I wasn't being nasty or rude or horrible, but it's just that they [black people] make a mess. It is just how they are."

The BBC, reporting on the furore, angered many with the way that they framed the story in a tweet that was later deleted.

Dear @BBCAfrica, NO it is not black people being on the beach that caused a race row. A racist person did. Thank you pic.twitter.com/5prmPXQsWt -- ManqobaCNtshingila©® (@chiefntshingila) January 4, 2016

It didn't however end there.

What the hell is happening? Did the white supremacy mothership activate its entire species living among us? pic.twitter.com/kZLU81yMvP-- Ranjeni Munusamy (@RanjeniM) January 4, 2016

Standard Bank, in the meanwhile, said they condemned Hart's comments.

Comments by @chrishartZA yesterday are factually incorrect and have racist undertones that do not reflect our values https://t.co/Hjat3ruPaJ -- Standard Bank SA (@StandardBankZA) January 4, 2016

And on Monday afternoon, it was announced that the bank had suspended him.

Chris Hart has been suspended. pic.twitter.com/5qC3toGi9T -- The Daily VOX (@thedailyvox) January 4, 2016

Sparrow, a Democratic Alliance member, had charges pressed against her by the party and steps taken to suspend her membership. The party also issued a statement condemning her comments.

#PennySparrow Investigation will be of Crimen Injuria for infringing the dignity of all and for dehumanising black South Africans. -- eNCA (@eNCA) January 4, 2016

But some were wary of the party demonstrating double standards.

I see DA on my timeline denouncing racism. At this rate, Kohler-Barnard would be coming out to condemn #PennySparrow too 😭😭 -- Moloto Mothapo (@MolotoMothapo) January 4, 2016

And wondered whether Hart - also a DA member - would be condemned similarly.

Chris Hart is a member of the DA. He contributes to their economic policies. Will the DA also suspend his membership? @StandardBankZA -- Bo Mbindwane (@mbindwane) January 4, 2016

And in the meanwhile, some worried about the precedent Hart's suspension set. Was it fair to suspend someone for expressing views that are the official positions of more conservative parties anyway?

Let's be real, Standard Bank hasn't suspended Hart because they are fighting racism. They are responding to the outrage on social media, and strategically distancing their brand from the crude racism of one of their most publicly visible employees. Because, seriously, Hart's utterances clearly had racist undertones.

We can take comfort in the knowledge that South Africa, under the astute leadership of the woke, will be a hostile place for racists. And that can only lead to a better place.

SA should be the scariest place for racists. They must livd in pure terror of losing EVERYTHING for even coughing wrong -- This Is Our Home (@MsPolymisfit) January 4, 2016

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