Prominent South African Poet Responds to Photo of White Students in Blackface

University of Pretoria

University of Pretoria

A picture of two white University of Pretoria students, who painted their faces black and stuffed pillows under their skirts to make their buttocks look bigger in an obvious mockery of Black women, has gone viral.

Many outraged people took to the social network Twitter to express their disgust at the students, calling them racist, while others dismissed it as just a bit of fun.

Poet and presenter Lebo Mashile said painting your face black and making a mockery of Black people can never be acceptable and is no laughing matter.

“South Africa is a white supremacist society to its very core, and even though life has changed for a slice of Black people, for the majority of Black people in this country, life hasn’t transformed. The majority of poor people in this country are Black. Many Black people in this country still live like refugees. So why are we shocked that white people don’t respect us?” she asks.

University of Pretoria students (photo:Twitter)

University of Pretoria students (photo:Twitter)

Mashile adds that as a Black woman, she takes great offense at what the students did.

“If Black girls are being told they can’t wear their own hair at schools, if Black women are told in corporate South Africa that their own hair looks unprofessional, why are we surprised by these girls’ act?” she asks.

Mashile says it is sad that such incidents still happen in the country and she doesn’t think the situation is going to change any time soon.

Stand-up comedian Tumi Morake, who makes a living out of making jokes about issues such as racism, says she doesn’t really care about what the students did. “They are attention-seekers. They knew what kind of reaction they would get when they posted those pictures online.”


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