UPDATE: The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) confirmed to The Daily Vox that it had received the complaints against Wabantu. “At this stage, we can acknowledge that we are in receipt of complaints and that our ruling will be published on our website as soon as it is available,” BCCSA the registrar Shouneez Martin said. “We are not aware of a petition and in terms of our rules, we do not accept or consider petitions of orchestrated complaints,” Martin added.
Proximity to victims of social struggles does not make one sympathetic or empathetic to those struggles. In other words, being close to people who fall under marginalised, minority and/or oppressed groups, does not give one a free pass at being problematic. Zodwa Libram (also known as Zodwa Wabantu) to answer your question, “how can I be homophobic, I have more than 20 gay friends?”. Simply, by saying what you said.
Zodwa Wabantu, talking to Times Live, responded to criticism of what she said on her reality show, Zodwa Wabantu Uncensored, with the rhetoric used when white people are caught with their hands in the racism jar: ‘but my friends’. Zodwa defended herself by saying she was talking about her 20+ gay friends and her rant was about them.
Oh, your friends are gay. Let’s stop being dramatic and go home then, right? Right?
No! We have heard a Becky or two say, “I can’t be racist, my one friend is black” and rolled our eyes. Zodwa’s response to the backlash of her comments on her reality show, Zodwa Wabantu Uncensored, shows the same attempt to be given a free pass at being problematic because of close relations.
Even if it is true that her friends are indeed how she describes, although there being more than 20 and gay people (as surprising as it may be for some) not being as one dimensional as some would believe, it does not mean go on live television and portray your subjective “observations” as objective truth. She cannot deny that her statements were totalising and put all gay men (as diverse as they are) into a neat little box.
Thankfully, it seems most agree. The two petitions going head to head, one to cancel Zodwa’s show and the other to save it, are showing that the LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer plus) community will not stan homophobia and transphobia. The former petition at the writing of this article has just under 7000+ and the latter with a measly little under 1700. However, this may not mean that the show will go away, with Moja Love channel 157, playing mum on the situation.
To fully grasp why Zodwa’s statements are problematic, no matter to whom they were addressed (I would not want to be one of her friends), read an analysis of her statement below:
Author’s note: The headline of this piece has been updated to reflect comment from BCCSA. The previous headline read: ‘Zodwa Wabantu Plays The ‘But My Friends’ Card To Defend Homophobic Rant’
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