A nation ready to be offended. That is what we are. Underneath the false pretence of a rainbow nation and a united people, lies 50 million people of different races who are always waiting for the slightest thing to get offended about. And 9 times out of 10, it’s race related. That is the price we pay for our country’s violent and racist past, I suppose.
It’s either white folks complaining about being marginalised in the new South Africa (I see you, Steve Hofmeyr), or black people complaining about white supremacy and not being given the same opportunities as their white counterparts (I see you too, Julius Malema).
I think both parties’ complaints are valid, but that is neither here nor there.
My real gripe with this nation of ours is that sometimes we let the fact that we’re offended take precedence over everything else. Even over helping to feed children who go to bed hungry every night.
If you haven’t guessed it by now, I’m referring to the “Feed A Child” charity advert which caused a stir in the media a couple of weeks ago. I can’t provide a YouTube link to the ad because it’s been taken down, but if you haven’t seen it, here’s a brief summary of the ad:
It shows a wealthy white woman petting and feeding a young black child in the same way you would a dog. While she lies in bed, he brings her a newspaper and is rewarded with a snack. While sitting at a table, she gives the child scraps as he kneels beside her chair and she allows
him to lick her fingers. The ad ends with words: “The average domestic dog eats better than millions of children.”
I get why this advert would offend people and why some are calling it racist. I really do. But, is it a lie? Is it not true that the average domestic dog does eat better than millions of children? Especially in South Africa? In recent times, I’ve read/listened to many people make the observation that white people treat their dogs better than they treat other people. Heck, even I’ve made a joke about how when I die I’d like to come back reincarnated as a white person’s dog.
I have a twisted sense of humour – I know.
The same people who made this observation are the same people who are angry and crying racism now. They knew about this all along, so why we are they so angry all of a sudden? Is it because someone was ballsy enough to make an actual advert about it? Now that it’s a “thing” in the media they’re allowed to complain about it out loud?
I know why I’m angry with this whole situation. We, as black South Africans, found a way to make this advert about ourselves. We actively chose to ignore the most important message in the advert (there are millions of starving South African children who need our fucking help) and focused on how we were once again being represented as childlike, bestial beings.
And maybe we’re right to complain about this advert and call it racist – but should the fact that we are offended by it take precedence over the fact that there are millions of (mostly black) children who go to bed starving every night?
I think not.