Twitter reacts to the blackface battle

The claws are out after two University of Pretoria students dressed up, allegedly for a 21st birthday party, as domestic workers with doeks, exaggeratedly big bums and black paint smeared on their faces and arms. The university said in a statement that the students would be disciplined for bringing the university's name into disrepute. The Twittersphere was divided on what some may say is a clearly offensive party trick, with some calling the incident "innocent fun" and others expressing shock at how the offensiveness of the act could even be questioned. Some people's concerns regarding the incident were a bit more superficial: While they were at it, many called into question the blackface actions by some South African celebrities: Steve Hofmeyer weighed in on the subject, by trying to justify why blackface did not qualify as overt racism. Obviously. "Wait. Why are we even debating this?" a few tweeters wanted to know. Some Twitter users, including South African songstress Simphiwe Dana took issue with journalist Barry Bateman's call to debate whether blackface is offensive or not. Several white Twitter users were quick to react inappropriately to the outrage by comparing black people's choice of dress to the current scandal. And then there was the retaliation to that argument: Whether it's at a 21st party in South Africa, a Christmas celebration in the Netherlands or a Halloween party in the US, white people thinking it's hilarious to dress up as black people is never ok. No, not if it's just a joke. Never.


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