Registration for Miss South Africa 2020 has barely been open for a week and already one of the aspirants – Bianca Schoombee – has become tangled in a racial slur scandal.
In 2014, the model who is signed to Sync agency, posted three tweets, one of which body shames an unidentified woman and the other two are unquestionably racist. Supporters of Schoombee were quick to plead youthful ignorance on her behalf.
Bianca said she’s ready to be #MissSA2020 & Black Twitter went back as far as 2013 just to prove that once tweeted racists tweets & she’s been body shaming others therefore #BiancaMustFall hai this App. #MissSA2020 #Bianca #BiancaSchoombee pic.twitter.com/9rKJ6CC7sD
— Man’s NOT Barry Roux (@AdvoBarryRoux) May 20, 2020
But Black Twitter was not about to let her off easily and even her modelling agency, Sync, deleted their own tweets, leaving Schoombee at the mercy of Twitter’s multitudes. The general counter argument was that there is no statute of limitations on racism and being “young” is no justification for hate speech. #BiancaMustFall trended throughout the day.
Television presenter and entertainment commentator, Phil Mphela took a somewhat neutral stance.
The Twitter account of Lolita Koti is widely credited with the expose.
lemme make a thread for everyone who’s gonna be lost when they wake up..
here’s your queen; Bianca Schoombee in tweets pic.twitter.com/8N8JgffVHh
— RAMS could get it (@daddilola) May 19, 2020
My Bianca Schoombee moment
Reading the numerous opinions, I took a moment for self examination. Everyone makes mistakes. I made plenty of them in my childhood. In fact, I am willing to wager my last face mask that every veteran of the #BiancaMustFall Twar has made mistakes too. The only difference is that we did not throw our hat into the ring for Miss South Africa – a country which is predominantly black and therefore intolerant to even the slightest hint of white supremacy. In fact, most people who run for any position of social significance will, at some point, be confronted by their past. It is only a question of when rather than if the ghosts of the past will resurface.
I grew up on a staple of hiphop and black American culture – Boyz N Da Hood, Menace II Society, Friday, Set It Off, Above The Rim – in an age when United States born people of African descent referred to themselves as just “black” rather than the now preferred term, African American. I literally went to sleep with rap music as my lullaby and was woken by the same music set on radio timer. The moment I got a driver’s license, all I listened to on the drive to work was Jay Z, Wu-Tang, The Lost Boyz, Fat Joe, basically any CD that came with a parental advisory sticker on the cover. Homophobia, misogyny, racism and all manner of hate speech filled my ears. As a consequence of my preferred music – and the prevailing opinion back then – I too used homophobic slurs.
Being overly sensitive was referred to as “being gay”. I recall quite vividly how my high school friends and I would stand with our backs against a wall – implying fear of being molested – whenever one of us behaved in a manner deemed by the in crowd to be “gay”. But as you grow up, read books, open up your mind and allow yourself to make your own opinions, you learn that gay people are not going to molest you just because you are a man. In fact, if we are going to split hairs, most rape crimes are perpetrated by heterosexuals, the very people who covered their backsides in the proximity of a gay man.
As I digested the Bianca Schoombee tweets, I wondered about the amount of files that could be exhumed and used against me. I guess my only saving grace is that I did not grow up in the age of screenshots. More recently, rapper/actor/TV presenter and businesswoman, Boity Thulo survived a similar Twitter revelation when someone exhumed – brought to light – tweets which were distinctly homophobic.
No leniency for white people
Supporters of Boity, who, fortunately for her, outnumber her detractors on Twitter, came to her defence and also pleaded youth. Comedian Trevor Noah enjoyed similar support in a matter where his 2013 Aborigine joke was brought up. So why is the same leniency not extended to Bianca Schoombee? Is it because she is white? Several Afrocentric tweets you read may be classified as racist, what some may call “reverse racism.” There is a school of thought that says black people cannot be racist. Because of South Africa’s history, race is a very sensitive subject. You can almost get away with making fun of blind people or persons with albinism, but you never make black jokes if you are white. This is the unwritten rule.
Bianca Schooombee – racist or tech victim?
Seven years is a long time and 14 years old is very young. I have already used myself as an example of youthful stupidy. If I made homophobic jokes when I was 15, is my adult self still a bigot? I overcame my ignorance. However, I am not sure Miss Schoombee has come to the same moment of repentance, which is odd, given her purported Christian grounding. Her twitter account reads “rooted and grounded in love, Ephesians 3 verse 17”.
In a tweet – which was her first reaction to the outrage – Schoombee used words that are intended to make little of what she said back in her teens. She accused her detractors of having exhumed old tweets; language clearly meant to portray the complainants as pathetic people with, perhaps, nothing better to do with their lives than dig up her past mistakes. Schoombee was later able to piece together an apology — an afterthought — no doubt penned by PR professionals. But it is her first response that indicates a lack of remorse. What a repentant person leads with is not a counter attack on her accusers but an apology. There was not one word of regret in this tweet. It is most ironic that reigning Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi, in the Miss South Africa call for entries, opens her narrative with:
“It’s time to find out who you really are…”
Bianca Schoombee certainly showed who she really is.
Bianca Schoombee quits Miss SA
After being dragged all day on Twitter, Schoombee withdrew her entry to Miss SA. Would the organisers of Miss South Africa – and associate brands – have permit Schoombie to take part in the pagent? The answer, in one word; Sjava.
When Sjava’s ex girlfriend, Lady Zamar made accusations of rape, the musician was immediately struck off the list of DStv Mzansi Viewers Choice Award nominees.
Miss South Africa is a brand, and brands are touchy about scandal. According to Sunday World, here is what Miss South Africa CEO Stephanie Weil said:
“There is good governance in place to ensure that Miss South Africa finalists and semi-finalists align with our values.
“Our rules state that any semi-finalist or finalist may not have been involved in any unsavoury or unethical incidents or conduct that may bring the organisers or the Miss South Africa pageant into disrepute.
“Unsavoury or unethical conduct includes, but is not limited to, bribery, racism, sexism, slander or libel.”
Is Bianca a racist? Make up your mind.
My pen is capped