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Who knew that posters could still stir things up? A poster recently became a topic of debate in South Africa. It was not just any debate, as the controversial term “racism” made a strong appearance. The poster displays a white man and a black woman embracing. This naughty poster is on display on over forty college and university campuses throughout South Africa.
The Democratic Alliance Student Organization (DASO) is responsible for the display of these posters. The Democratic Alliance (DA) is a South African political party which governs the Western Cape. The DA aims at creating a society in which all people are equal and are presented with equal opportunities, regardless of race and gender. On their website, the DA claims that they deliver a dream of a nation “with opportunity and recognition for all the rainbow people.”
DASO delivered these posters with the intention of highlighting racism and the frequent discrimination of interracial relationships. Following Apartheid, South Africa has been in a constant war against racism. Racism has, however, not been fully eradicated in this country, and posters like this can easily cause a stir.
The poster reads: “In OUR future, you wouldn’t look twice.” In other words, the future the DASO envisions is so blind to the race of a person that no judgments concerning interracial relationships will exist.
The stir caused by this poster was not only due to the interracial couple it displays. Although only their upper bodies are displayed, they seem to be naked. Due to the nudity of the couple, the poster has been mistaken as an ad for condoms, and it seems that the identities of the couple on the poster is unknown, even to the DA. Some believe that it even advertises colonization by portraying the more dominant male in the poster as being of the white race.
As these posters are displayed on campuses, students are outspoken about issues surrounding the poster. An economics student at the University of Stellenbosch, Kate Rich, voiced her opinion on the matter. “The fact that they’re naked almost detracts from the message because even if I saw two white people standing like that, I would look twice,” Rich explained.
As Manuel Leuenberger, a Swiss student visiting South Africa, puts it, “The intention behind the posters is good, but its execution not so much.” Some students, like South African music student Irene Kim, believe that they are only creating “more disgruntled South Africans.”
The poster’s intended message, however, does seem to reach students. There is a general consensus amongst South African students that racism is still alive and well in South Africa. Rich elaborated by stating, “South African society is still very fixated on race, and we need to get past it to be a united society… and to get past apartheid. Surely they’re trying to say that race shouldn’t be an issue.”
The effectiveness of the poster might be decreased due to debates surrounding it, or maybe these debates attract even more attention to the poster and its message. The poster ignited fresh debate surrounding the issue of racism in South Africa, and it is high time for such a debate to take place.