South Africans are Using Twitter to Fight for Social Change

IOL.co.za published an article by Imaan Latief and Robin Henney titled “’Woke Twitter’ blew whistle on racist twits.” In South Africa, Woke Twitter exposed racists comments that were made by three people, one of whom was suspended as an analyst for Standard Bank. Penny Sparrow, Chris Hart and Justin van Vuuren are being accused of using racially offensive language to impair the dignity of black people and are now facing charges. Woke Twitter is becoming a consciousness movement that is challenging racial, sexual and gender stereotypes.

Woke Twitter is a South African collective movement exposing racist and sexist social media posts that is using #BlackLivesMatter and South Africa’s #RhodesMustFall campaigns for inspiration. “Woke” means being aware of the real issues, targeting displays of racism and sexism, and identifying anyone who does not want to see true transformation in South Africa. The “Twitactivist” who are at the forefront of the Twitter mobilization efforts are able to use hashtags to generate support from hundreds of thousands of Twitter users against people they deem to be fighting against social change. In some cases, “Twitactivists” are able to cause people to lose their jobs or face intense public scrutiny.

Brenda Wardle made a comment on this subject stating Penny Sparrow and others have the right to freedom of speech according to the South African constitution, but they do not have the right to violate the dignity of other human beings. Brenda Wardle is a native South African who is a legal analyst and Chief Operations Officer of Wardle College of Law. She has several law degrees and is currently working towards a Doctorate of Laws degree. She is a widely published legal scholar and is frequently sought after by radio and TV outlets who want to get her views on the latest legal issues that affect South Africa.

Recently Brenda lent her expertise to the media during the Oscar Pistorius trial for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. She was seen on TV stations around the world including Fox News in the US and Channel Five in the UK where she helped to explain the South African legal system to people who were not familiar with it. Her comments about South Africa’s constitution regarding freedom of speech as it relates to human dignity have been very informative. The Woke Twitter article can be found at http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/western-cape/woke-twitter-blew-whistle-on-racist-twits-1.1967261.