After being bombarded with comments, tweets and posts by South Africans questioning the intent behind what has been labelled an inaccurate image attributed to life in South Africa, Fast and the Furious actor and RnB singer Tyrese Gibson took to Instagram to apologise and explain himself.
He began by saying that he felt as though his words and intentions were being twisted.
This after posting a series of race-based role-reversal scenarios along with the caption “The flip… get to YouTube, this is what’s going on in South Africa.”
“Listen, if anybody follows me on Instagram, y’all know, controversy doesn’t scare me, people in my comments, talking shit, going at me. Look, I’ve been doing this for a very long time… so none of that bothers me,” said Tyrese in his 30-minute video.
“What does bother me, is when I either say something or do something and I am misunderstood, so I will apologise, for those people who feel a way but I am not the kind of person to apologise without attempting to give clarity over what I may have said, what I may have meant or my intentions behind it,” he added.
He then recounted his first trip to the continent which he says happened in 2004 before referring to a recent ancestry test he recently took that he says proved that he is 98% African. He did not clarify which parts of the continent this was in reference to.
According to Tyrese, he has a South African friend named Sipho Dlamini, whom he regularly speaks to about the American perception of Africa, which is predominantly jaded by content highlighting the continent’s animal population.
Tyrese went on to postulate that the conversations had during his 2004 trip made him realise that the very picture of Africa painted for American consumers of media is racism in of itself.
Referring back to the images he posted, Tyrese attempted to explain what he was trying to say by explaining each image in a show-and-tell fashion as though he were explaining himself to a group of children.
The actor shared how he had no idea what the origin of the images was but stated that he was inspired by the message in the images which depict and black man surrounded by his chained white slaves, a rich black woman with her child being reared by a white woman, a little white girl in a store surrounded by black dolls and white women doing Asian women’s nails in a salon.
“I was inspired by the role reversal. I was inspired by kind of this shift that I think we’re all seeing in the world…”
The actor then explained that to him, this art poses the question “what if?”
“What if all of these images that we have seen throughout our lives was flipped on its head? So in my caption, it says ‘The flip… get to YouTube, this is what’s going on in South Africa.’ Now, what did that mean…?”
Tyrese then claimed that he was accused of presenting a false narrative by making it seem as though the images were an actual representation of what’s going on in the country.
He goes on to spend a significant amount of time speaking about systemic racism and its effects on a global scale before claiming that that was what his post was actually about.
He then reiterated that the fact that he put the words “the flip” in his caption made his position clear.
According to Tyrese, he has seen those images in action now that black people are no longer excluded from the opportunity to amass wealth.
He then explained his YouTube reference, citing a YouTube video he had seen which reportedly speaks about the poverty among certain white people in South Africa and juxtaposes it against the wealth of certain black Africans.
The conversation then became about his feelings about the death Winnie Mandela, recalling a trip he took to see her once before she passed. It was on this trip that he introduced her to his current wife.
“I had no idea that that would be my last time seeing mom,” said Tyrese.
According to Tyrese, those who felt offended by the image need to introspect about why they felt the way they did about what he posted.
“So to those who feel a way, I think you should ask yourself some real questions. And I’m just asking questions, not to offend anyone. Do you feel a way about the post because, irresponsibly, I posted this picture and made people in America or in South Africa or Africa, in general, think that everyone and everything in South Africa represents these images in this video or do you feel a way about me shedding light, not only about what’s going on here in America but what’s going on in other parts of the world.”
Tyrese also questioned why South Africans refer to other black people as coloured because to him, calling someone coloured is an insult.
“When is that gonna be ‘not okay’ anymore?” he asked before comparing it to the colloquial use of the n-word.
The post has since been deleted without an explanation, so it is unclear about whether Tyrese deleted it or if it was taken down by Instagram.