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Helen Zille unapologetic about 'black privilege' message: 'Stop stigmatising whiteness'

20 May 2019 - 07:37 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Western Cape premier Helen Zille came under fire for her "black privilege" tweet.
Western Cape premier Helen Zille came under fire for her "black privilege" tweet.
Image: Esa Alexander

Politician Helen Zille remains unapologetic after the massive backlash she received on social media after saying that some black South Africans, like some white South Africans, enjoy what she called “black privilege” because of the corrupt politicians who looted billions and still got re-elected.

Here’s how it all started:

White privilege response

Twitter user 'twatterbass' shared a video in which an American woman addresses white privilege in a poem, to which Zille responded by asking “Why is she saying this stuff in English?” A question that many responded to by attributing the poet's speaking the language to slavery and being forced to learn it. 

Black privilege

Zille's question saw her receive scores of responses about the effects of colonialism and white privilege, to which she responded by saying "if people want permanent poverty for the masses they are going about it the right way". 

She was saying this in reference to the ANC winning the elections. Some of the party's leaders are facing allegations of corruption and looting the state. 


Responses flocked in as people challenged Zille's point of view. Former public protector Thuli Madonsela asked Zille to withdraw her statements. But Zille would not budge as she said South Africans need to stop stigmatising "whiteness".

Since then, the term "black privilege" has dominated the trends list on Twitter, with thousands of people commenting over a three-day period. 

Here's a look at some of the reactions.