Social media has been up in arms, and rightfully so, after a racist comment made by KZN estate agent Penny Sparrow in which she openly referred to black people as monkeys on her Facebook page:
Sparrow’s name has been trending on Twitter all day, with calls for action against blatant racists like her:
The conversation that has been sparked by Sparrow’s offensive comment, and other similar social media posts, has reminded us of a point made by Sweet Medicine author Panashe Chigumadzi during the 2013 TEDxJohannesburg gathering.
In a lecture titled “A new self-identity for Africans”, Chigumadzi called for the “deprogramming of the colonised mind with programming”, reflecting on the racist notions that exist in post-apartheid South African media and society. South Africans, or more specifically black South Africans, suffer from a 300 year old negative colonial narrative that has shaped not only how the world sees them, but in many ways also how they see themselves – as inferior citizens of the world. Case in point: Sparrow’s comment (and the words of those who ‘defend’ her).
Analysing results from a media monitoring project, Chigumadzi looked at messaging and the control of African media to see how black people are projected. Racist notions that exist include the following:
1. Blacks are criminals
2. Blacks are irrational
3. People act according to their ethnic identity
Chigumadzi defines the concept ‘sterotype threat’ and makes a call for Africans to take back the stereotypes that exist about them; she urges black people to exercise control over the way in which they are perceived.
Watch the video to see examples of how that has and can be done through media, including how to speak up when negative racial notions are encouraged by individuals and media organisations:
Let’s redefine what it means to be black and African and reaffirm ourselves in our identity. Let’s deprogram our colonised minds, with good, compelling content.
Read more about Panashe Chigumadzi and her magnificent debut novel: