Can a hashtag end racism?
South Africans are grappling with a #RacismStopsWithMe social media campaign that aims to transform the traditionally confrontational stance people take on the issue of racial prejudice by turning the spotlight on individuals taking positive action.
The campaign points the finger directly at everyone of us.
“Are you racist? If so how can you stop? starts the new #RacismStopsWithMe radio ad campaign. Now that is seriously bold!‚” Thami Masemola @ThamiMasemola tweeted.
Alongside another campaign‚ tagged #RacismMustFall‚ a few are trying to interrupt the ‘haters’ who spew vitriol on timelines.
I am a person. Not a colour. I feel. I think. I live. So do you. #RacismMustFall— Bianca Du Toit (@biancadt169) February 21, 2016
“Time we all started pouring water and not fuel on the ‘fire of racism’. Let's end it! Starting with ourselves‚” Joleen Cairncross shared via Facebook. “#Racism must fall‚ starting with our own mindset! No more excuses or blaming others.”
Twitterati have begun offering suggestions on how individuals could adopt its message:
“The only way to fight racism is to stop it every day when you come across it. #RacismStopsWithMe” - Evert Klopper @wishcoat.
“Fact is that racism is learned behaviour‚ and like all learned behaviour it CAN be unlearned” - Pieter Howes @PieterHowes
“Saying #notoracism is not meant to defend your race. It's an attitude you need to practice & apply to all races‚ equally #RacismStopsWithMe” - Aarti Bhana @Aa_rt_i
Others‚ however‚ seemed to take offence‚ as evidenced by tweets like this: “The worst form of disrespect is telling a black South African to forget about apartheid & move on‚” said ♥EpicalSoul ♥ @TauGiven.
At the recent launch of the #RacismStopsWithMe campaign‚ under the banner of the Anti-Racism Network South Africa‚ the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation said it was a critical initiative and encouraged every citizen to assist in combating racism.
The campaign‚ the foundation said‚ “is forward looking”‚ with “the potential to take forward the work done by anti-apartheid veterans such as Nelson Mandela‚ Ahmed Kathrada and numerous others”.
“We hope that South Africans over the next few months and particularly over anti-racism week‚ support efforts‚ such as this one‚ that aim to eradicate racism from our society.”