Category: Activists

Brenda Wardle on Racist Tweets

Are you woke? In terms of online slang, being woke refers to being active, both socially and politically. It means that an individual is aware of issues that are happening today and that this person sees through the hype and is active in the search for the truth. This term first developed during the #BlackLivesMatter campaign started through Twitter.

Those who use the social networking platform Twitter are constantly developing memes, challenging offensive posts, and using this network to offer short, 140-character messages about issues happening in the real world. Twitter is a huge collective of individuals from every walk of life. From preteens to government officials to famous music stars, it is an extremely public and favorited way to voice an opinion and make a stance. “Woke Twitter” was responsible for shedding light on racist remarks that Penny Sparrow, Chris Hart and Justin van Vuuren had made in previous days. These remarks were not just noticed on the internet. These comments caused Hart to be suspended as an analyst by Standard Bank and all three individuals had charges pressed against them for their comments.

While the constitution protects the right of free speech, it also dictates that these freely-spoken statements can only be made providing they do not infringe on the rights of others. Legal analyst Brenda Wardle had this to say: “We must remember that free speech or even freedom of expression, unlike human dignity, is limited by specific clauses in the constitution. So what Penny Sparrow did was to prejudice the rights of all black South Africans by equating them to monkeys, apes and animals.

With such a large collection of individuals coming together using hashtags and re-tweeting, re-posting, and favoriting the tweets related to these incidents, the online community urges everyone to “stay woke” and diminish the ability for certain people to escape the law by passing under the radar using such hateful words and descriptions.

Check out Brenda Wardle on Facebook and LinkedIn

Brenda Wardle on the Pistorius Trial:

Yeoung Park: A Force For Change

Think of a bad day. Think of the worst day you have ever had in your life. Now imagine it over and over every day of your life. Now realize that what you are imagining is likely not even close to the horrible days endured by the citizens of North Korea on a daily basis. Kim Jong-Un and the 70-year legacy that he stands for believe in nothing but they oppression of their people. Children are indoctrinated with a belief in two rules: worship the dictator and hate the enemies of the regime. They are not allowed to choose what to sing, wear, or think themselves.

But there are people standing up against the oppression in North Korea. Brave people like Yeonmi Park. Yeoung was born in North Korea and raised to believe these principles so wholly that she was certain her leader could read her thoughts, and she would be punished for thinking anything negative about her government. At nine she witnessed her friends mother being executed for a minor crime. Her father was forced to smuggle gold, silver, and other precious metals to China just to try and feed his family through the horrible famine in 2002. Her family fled the country, and she and her parents were sold into human trafficking while trying to escape through China to the South Korean embassy in Mongolia. Her mother was raped to save her from the same fate and her father died of colon cancer in the Chinese Mountains. Burying her father at 3am so as not to be seen, she remembers feeling that she couldn’t cry or she would be immediately caught and sent back to North Korea.

Now, having finally escaped by crossing the Gobi Desert at -40 degrees, she still fears speaking out against the government that oppressed her, but she is not letting that fear stop her. Giving a speech at the One Young World Summit in Dublin Ireland, she became a YouTube sensation and the face of the movement to end the oppression in North Korea. Even having escaped the country, she still faces oppression from her former government. Currently, she is publishing a tell-all book through Penguin about her escape, but more importantly about the horrible crimes that she suffered through in North Korea.  It speaks volumes about Yeoung Park that the worst her family members were able to conjure up was that she was an “ambitious girl.” Yeoung, along with others, continues to work towards change for the people under the thumb of this tyrannical dictator.