A social media post caught backlash on Twitter when pictures captioned “people of South Africa” insinuated the representation of all South African cultures.
But Twitter people were not having it nor backing down, as they felt not all cultures were being represented in the post as part of the title “people of South Africa” or as the actual term of what South Africa is – a “rainbow nation.”
The term rainbow nation was first started by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu and later by Nelson Mandela to describe post-apartheid South Africa, after South Africa’s first fully democratic elections. The term is not only used to describe our culture but it spoke about peace and prosperity with the purpose of unity.
Despite the richness and sense of culture within the coloured community, in social media posts, they are always portrayed as homogenous or showing what they lack.
This post in particular received lashings from South Africa’s coloured community – represented with a snapshot including three men, two of which are missing teeth: a historically stereotyped and racialised feature. Other cultures were represented vibrantly, dressed in traditional attire, or at the very least, draped in a South African flag. Even so, the level of exclusion is high and in some cases, cultures are misrepresented entirely.
“The image of the three coloured [men] is not representative of my people. You’ve chosen to depict coloured people in a demeaning, stereotypical fashion. If you really want to show a true representation of SA, choose more appropriate pics,” one Tweep commented.
“This nonsense of portraying coloureds as gangsters must stop,” another person said.
Though the post had good intent – sharing South Africa’s cultures and diversity – the final product was unconsidered and highlighted an overarching issue of generalisation in the country.
The narrative of racial “mixing” can be harmful especially as it shrouds coloured identities in shame and renders the coloured community as cultureless within popular narratives. These definitions are silencing, and not only that, it is a deeply problematic construction that denies the actual, lived, real experience of coloured identities based on a rich and nuanced history that has been denied even to its own.
Check out some of the Twitter reactions to the post:
The disrespect of posting that picture to represent “colored people” really???
— Angelo Collins (@ANGELOCOLLINSSA) August 21, 2022
You’re damn wrong for F2 top pic pic.twitter.com/L7IslxbVr3
— Aunty-Wenu 🇿🇦 (@DurbanAunty) August 20, 2022
One Tweep posted what the rainbow nation is and what the actual post could have been about from the start.
— MOSS™🇿🇦🏳️🌈 (@_officialMoss) August 20, 2022