/ 18 March 2015

#RhodesSoWhite: Is the race revolution here?

Black students have taken to Twitter to voice their experiences of white privilege on the Rhodes University campus.
Black students have taken to Twitter to voice their experiences of white privilege on the Rhodes University campus.

The race revolution is here, according to Rhodes University students who have taken to social media to tell their country that white privilege is an issue they experience every day. The tweets are accompanied by the #RhodesSoWhite hashtag, which is trending on the social media network.

A third year politics and journalism student, Sanele Ntshingana, told the Mail & Guardian on Wednesday that a fight on the university’s Students Representative Council (SRC) Facebook page sparked the fury on social media.

“We had a solidarity march yesterday for the University of Cape Town students who are protesting for the removal of the [Cecil John] Rhodes statue from their campus. After that a student wrote on the Facebook page that if the statue was taken down, it must be bought to Rhodes University to chill here. It was a joke, but it sparked a lot of rage.”

Rhodes must fall protest at UCT. (David Harrison, MG)

The Facebook post has since been removed from the SRC’s Facebook wall.

Ntshingana said subsequent comments on the page by white students “saying they are tired of discussions about race” only fuelled students’ anger.

An anonymous person then put up posters, with the hashtag #RhodesSoWhite, outside the university library on Wednesday morning, as well as other parts of campus. One of the posters said: “You can pronounce Gert but not Radebe.”

The posters are about black students’ experiences on campus, Ntshingana said. Parallel to this, students had already started expressing their rage about the lack of transformation at the university on Twitter.

The tweets focus on the bad experiences of black students, who say they are a result of a lack of understanding about culture and race by some white students and lecturers.

Some of the tweets highlight these incidents. 

One Twitter user highlighted a common excuse used by white people.

Another Twitter user explained what would happen if the university changed its name:

“The posters went up this morning. I’ve been there to see them. The vibe is quite exciting on campus. I sense a lot of excitement and eagerness to talk about this subject,” Ntshingana said. “The SRC has even set an emergency meeting tomorrow. The vice-chancellor and others from management will even be there. The hype is building every day.”

Rhodes must fall protest UCT. (David Harrison, MG)