“Social network Twitter was abuzz with users commenting on a Sunday World newspaper column “Bitch’s Brew” by Nomakuli Roberts. This past Sunday Kuli’s column (27 February 2011) “Jou ma se kinders – Eish, I miss daai lippies vannie Kaap” was about coloured women, and included a lot of negative racial stereotypes including that coloured people “love to fight in public and most are very violent”, “never run out of cigarettes” and that “these girls breed as if … (we don’t think you need the rest)” Media Matters (mediamattersza’s posterous: 28 February 2011)
Without a doubt, the content of the column was racist, vile and in very bad taste. I believe that columnists, writers and/or influential people in mainstream media, have a duty to seek to aspire the humanity within their readers. Sowing divisions, generalisations, racial stereotyping and hatred is not something that should be taken lightly. However, as glad as I am that action has been taken against the author of the column, Kuli Roberts, I feel that the editor and/or sub-editor of the column got off too lightly. By allowing the column to be printed in the first place, the editor acted as an ‘accomplice to the crime’ and should also be severely dealt with. It would send out a strong message to others, that such blatant racism will not be tolerated from anyone and serve to make editors and/or sub-editors wary of printing such vileness in their papers.
The media is a very powerful tool. Through it, division and hatred can be sown or wounds healed; it can play a part in the creation and maintenance of democracy, but can also endanger it; but over and above all that, the media can also be used to spread humanity. As such, it is important that those involved in media, act responsibly. Columns and articles, shouldn’t be written to shock or boost sales, rather they should be used to heal, inform and for everything else that affects humanity positively.
Public interest; the preservation of democracy; the encouragement of participation and inspiring the humanity in readers should always be the guide used by Editors and Sub-editors in gauging what gets printed in their papers.