While the world chants Black Lives Matter, here in SA this cause has been alight since the days of apartheid. June 16th is a day when South Africans commemorate the Soweto uprising. But it should not be like all other public holidays that are often just used as a day to get out of work or a day to have a braai with friends.
We need to use this time, this day or month to speak to our youth about what it means to be behind a cause.
Let us look at the lifestyle of our youth. It is all about social status. It is about how many likes a picture or video gets, what can I do to make my video go viral? We see the challenges in which young people are parading on TikTok with their domestic workers doing challenges. Is this appropriate? Another common TikTok video that stirs debate is when we find young people adorning the hijab to make a video viral but what this does is only showcase the lack of understanding as to why it is worn. From making videos to mock African and Indian culture, to pretending to speak in an accent of other racial groups, we have seen them all.
But the question is what are our young people doing to raise awareness around the issues of racism? Is simply sharing a blacked-out image on social media enough to show your solidarity?
It is not. Racism exists even in our homes. It exists when our family members address the domestic worker as girl or boy. It exists when we make assumptions and comments on culture. When we see the attempt to make a mockery of someone’s accent and relish in laughter at how a certain group dances or celebrates festivities.
This is not new to us. This infact is online racism. It is what we see when someone makes snarky comments about culture, religion and race. It is what we see when a meme is shared and as much as the groups that relate to it share and have a ball of a laugh if the meme was made by another group, we would take offence. The question is as youth how to we deal with it?
We have also seen celebrities being called out for selective participation. From the likes of international celeb Priyanka Chopra Jonas who was called out for her support to BLM but not for the ongoing atrocities to minority groups in India.
The fight against racism is not something we are unfamiliar with. We have seen how for years we have had to deal with racist people within our homes and communities. They are also foolishly in leadership. Racism is not an issue that is alienated. It is one that brings about the bigger discussion on what do we do to address it.
The reality is that our youth are the ones with the most connections in terms of making a subject go viral. This should be a chance for you to go out there and express your concern on these unsettling matters. Rather than ignore social treads of comments on racism call people out. Unfriend and unfollow if you must.
Ask yourself as a young social media user what am I doing to stop hate speech and social divide?
Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute and the Author of Racism, Classism, Sexism and the other ISM’s that Divide us. ICHAF offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates.