“The reaction to recent racist tweets has shown the power of stereotypes to influence the way a whole nation sees itself, spreading negativity that affects not only individuals, but the national mood itself,” said EthicsSA CEO professor Deon Rossouw in a statement on Tuesday.
“These tweets seem to confirm stereotypes so they spread easily, but they are simply not borne out by the facts. We need to be much more critical of these stereotypes and pay more attention to the goodwill in our society.” As an example of how stereotyping masks and can overpower reality is evident in the racism debate underway, Rossouw continued.
The spate of racist tweets and reactions to them could seem to confirm stereotypes that everybody was racist, thus creating the impression that reconciliation and nation-building had failed and were no longer worth pursuing. “In fact, the opposite is true, as the SA Reconciliation Barometer 2015 shows.”
Published late last year by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, the survey provides factual evidence that the vast majority of South Africans are committed to reconciliation and nation-building – 75.5% favour an inclusive South African identity and 71% believe it is important to have a united South African nation. “This is astonishing, given the fact that a majority (61.4%) also believe that race relations have stayed the same or worsened since democracy.
“So yes, the challenges remain daunting and not enough progress is being made. But the reality is that most of us want the South African project to succeed,” said Rossouw