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Photographer calls on South Africans to engage on white privilege

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Cape Town photographer Sydelle Willow Smith says she hopes her restored controversial photographs in Company Gardens will still get South Africans talking about whiteness and its power dynamics. Twenty photographs were vandalised on Monday and smeared with human faeces. They have since been restored to their former glory.

Smith has called all South Africans to engage in important debates about whiteness.

“I think a lot of people after 1994 wanted to move; one, very quickly to be a rainbow nation and we were sold this ‘simunye,’ (meaning we are one) , the rugby saved us and Mandela and all of that stuff was amazing and fantastic that we came to a space like that but a lot of the nitty gritty everyday entitled behaviour, the actual benefits of privilege based on the colour of your skin haven’t been reflected upon enough.”

Members of the public have shared their views about the display of controversial photographs at the Company Gardens in Cape Town.

“It’s amazing that she acknowledges that there is white privilege. I think that it is important for white South Africans to be aware of that. Apartheid ended 25 years ago compared to France where it happened centuries ago. Being white in South Africa used to have its advantages because of apartheid which was an unjust system in any case, but nowadays it has its disadvantages,” says one of the members of the public.


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