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Latest editorial: Racism, Social Media, Opportunities…

Today marks the second day of the National Investigative Hearing on Racism and Social Media hosted by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

Following highly publicised incidents of racism on social media, the hearing is a platform to discuss necessary interventions in curbing online hate speech.

Thandiwe Matthews, Senior Legal Officer at the SAHRC writes, “Recent incidents on social media platforms illustrate the urgent need for intervention and leadership in confronting discrimination and issues related to the right to equality – and by extension, racism.”

The SAHRC has stated that the hearing is intended to arrive at an understanding of the complexities of online hate speech, the responsibilities of private companies and public authorities in dealing with online hate, and whether these responsibilities should be derived from human rights law.

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Earlier this month The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) published a report, “Reasons for Hope: Sound, but fraying at the edges” on racism and race relations in South Africa in 2016.

Motivated by the Penny Sparrow case from January 2016, this report is meant to dispel the notion that race and racism are significant issues to South Africans and in South Africa.

SAIRR “found that only 3% of South Africans surveyed see racism as a serious unresolved problem.”

In Contrast, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) “found that over 66% of South Africans do not trust one another across racial lines and that until this was resolved, reconciliation would not be fully achieved.”

Legal Analyst Ottilia Anna Maunganidze writes, “…denying that racism is still prevalent ignores the lived realities of millions of South Africans who are now being told what they see, feel and deal with is not racism, but manufactured outrage. If reconciliation, transformation and non-racialism are the goals, the steps taken must not be whitewashed in a way that has the potential to silence those who acknowledge current hurdles.”

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Read the e-newsletter here: Issue 548: Racism, Social Media, Opportunities…

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