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Only a few months ago, two girls from the University of Pretoria dressed up as maids for their friend’s birthday party. They painted their faces black and put pillows in their skirts. Naturally, this erupted a massive racial debate that was just about to quieten down. Until now, that is.
While the girls from Pretoria posted their photos on Facebook — a rather limited platform in terms of public reach — two students from Stellenbosch University more recently posted photos of themselves via Twitter, with their faces painted black.
Stellenbosch University students with some Blackface. Classy as always pic.twitter.com/9l3YlAp4EB
— Siyabonga Nyezi (@siyanyezi) September 23, 2014
The students apparently dressed up as US tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams. The reactions on Twitter varies from outrage to “I just don’t get the fuss.”
— Times LIVE (@TimesLIVE) September 23, 2014
— Neith (@Irmentis) September 23, 2014
Some people question the sensitivity or the significance surrounding these incidents:
I’m not undermining the racial significance of ‘black face’ however we can’t allow ourselves to be angered by every racist action/remark
— Mahlomola (@Dabio_M) September 23, 2014
— Mpho Maboi (@MphoMaboi) September 23, 2014
I don’t think I will ever understand the #blackface thing. With the sensitivity that exists race is always going to be an issue
— P-J Moses (@Pj_MOSES) September 23, 2014
Really you are offended by #Blackface???
— McDonald♥McCafe (@NonhleSmiley) September 23, 2014
Others express anger at the students and Stellenbosch University:
About blackface: How long have we as black people mimicked accents, dress codes, events, shows, fashion from the West to be offended by it?
— IG:Sam_Gqomo (@Samkelwe14) September 23, 2014
— CIA Agent Dr TDKay (@OagengTidikwe) September 23, 2014
Then there are those that refer to popular, celebrity references such as South African comedian Leon Schuster and the popular Hollywood movie, White Chicks:
The ability to, with a straight face, compare blackface with all its historical to White Chicks and believe it’s exactly the same thing,
— Laura Shortridge (@DiscordianKitty) September 23, 2014
— Phumuza Mlambo (@Refmista) September 23, 2014