Reaction to Miss South Africa's Glove-gate



Another day, another social media outrage! Current Miss SA Demi-Leigh Peters is in hot water over pictures shot at a charity soup kitchen event in Soweto. 

The official Miss South African account on Twitter shared pictures of Miss South Africa out and about in Soweto at a soup kitchen. The event is part of the Mandela month charity drive for the organisation.

In some of the pictures, the beauty queen is photographed interacting with black kids but it is the pictures where she is actually holding the kids that sparked the hissy-fit frenzy on Twitter.  In those pictures, Miss SA is holding the kids while still wearing latex gloves! 
At first I thought the issue was that she is being unhygienic by holding kids with the same gloves she presumably used or would be wearing to serve food, but no... people are triggered because the pics supposedly show that the young lady is racist. Forget that any food and beverage serving hygiene manual would actually encourage you to wear gloves when serving people, especially kids as their immune system is weaker — plus it is a freaken winter season!!

I'm not gonna dwell on semantics but you can somewhat imagine how this hoohah went down on a platform like Twitter. The girl was dragged and accused of all sorts. Some of the comments were downright hypocritical and racist towards her. 

Here is my take on this; I have been able to meet the Miss SA team on several occasions and I can reveal that the team is very white. Nothing wrong with that, but one can understand why some things that may be deemed insensitive to blacks could slip through the cracks. I genuinely do not think there was illl-intent behind the picture. 

That, however, does not absolve the organisers from responsibility. I know the Miss SA photographer to be white, I don't know who handles their social media, but someone should have realised that the optics were just not good. This to me is an issue of oversight rather than racism, especially given how this Miss SA's reign started. The race glare from those who still care about Miss SA pageant is still firmly on this Demi-Leigh. 

As for the Twitter outrage, notwithstanding the fact that we know there are lots of people on that platform who should make a living out of being constantly outraged — that would at-least be worth their while, we have to be very careful about how we use the racism label. 

Throwing racism around at every trivial situation, we risk diminishing the seriousness of the word. Racism is real. We see it everyday in our lives as black people, however, we need to be careful not to allow these trigger happy attention seekers on social media to usurp it for their own vanity fuelled "the boy who cried wolf" cattle call. 

The unnecessary hissy-fits to score silly wins do nothing to advance the serious conversation and actions that have to happen around race relations. I am not dismissing this incident as not having some negative connotation. As I said, the optics are bad and that should actually be an encouragement to the Miss SA team to get more black people involved in managing the office and image of the title holder. 

Let's be honest, Demi-Leigh could have just posted pictures of herself in Soweto and someone would have had something race related to say about that. You can even see in the comment section of the initial post on Twitter... some people are even upset that there were pictures taken at a charity event. Of course the fact that every Miss SA before Demi-Leigh has done the same thing means nothing to those people.  

Demi Leigh has since apologised and dare I say it: Give this girl a break!!


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