Is there a right way to talk about the poverty of black women in South Africa?

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An illustration by artist Thandiwe Tshabalala labeling cotton as “dental floss” and petroleum jelly as “lip gloss” for poor black women sparked outrage on Twitter this week. But when did poverty become offensive, the artist asked. RA’EESA PATHER reports.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I think her work is absolutely brilliant. It’s a wonderful subversion of these famous brands. Consumer aspiration has been repurposed by the ingenuity of poor black women.

    It’s one of the most honest and truthful portrayals of poverty in South Africa. It’s part of our past and our present. May it not be a part of our future.

    • “…one of the most honest and truthful portrayals of poverty in South Africa. It’s part of our past and our present.”

      Perfectly put, Paul – I don’t know why some people would like to sugarcoat it or not have it displayed.

  2. Thandiwe’s work is on point and speaks to the reality for a lot of black women (and black people, in general), in South Africa.

    I dare to say it’s only folk who have grown up in the suburbs who have never had to get creative and make household items double up as other items. Toothpaste as fever blister cream. Plastic shopping bags as umbrellas/hair caps to protect a hairdo in the rain. Black bags as raincoats. The outrage makes me think people are trying to deny a reality. There are no stereotypes being perpetuated – only presenting a world which still is.

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