Until two hours ago, I had never heard of Justine Sacco. And, I never would have had someone not noticed this tweet and sent it viral:
This level of racism is so common that I’m actually surprised people noticed enough to complain about it. The Huffington Post clearly thought so when they published an article about Twitter’s response with the headline: Justine Sacco’s Tweet About AIDS, Africa Is The Craziest Thing You’ll See Today. Yep, ain’t nothing so ‘crazy’ as evidence of systemic racism.
This is racism but, let’s be completely honest here, if a man had tweeted this out, no matter how powerful, no one would be sending rape and death threats on Twitter. Much of the response to Sacco’s racism isn’t from people concerned about systemic racism. It’s from violent misogynists who will use any excuse possible to attack women. This isn’t to say that Sacco doesn’t deserve criticism; she quite clearly does. But, criticism of racism doesn’t require rape and death threats. And, we do an incredible disservice to social justice when we allow violent, abusive assholes to dictate the language of criticism. We need to start reporting these abusive men so that the voices we here discussing systemic racism aren’t white men.
I also love this response to Sacco’s tweets. Someone bought the domain JustineSacco.com and directed all the traffic to Aid to Africa. This is real activism. It isn’t just jumping on a hashtag to express rage for cookies: it is taking something hateful and turning it into a positive change; much like the #feministtenner campaign.