What a difference 10 days in South Africa makes.
Last month,CoverGirls’ first ever “Cover Boy,” 17-year-old James Charles, made everyone cringe when he fired off a racist tweet joking about Africa being a disease-ridden place where he may catch Ebola:
Not only was the tweet not funny, but it was factually inaccurate. In January, the World Health Organization said the continent of Africa was now clear of Ebola.
Charles issued a quick, half-hearted apology saying he “felt like sh*t” for the tweet before disappearing from social media.
Now, he’s back! And he says he’s a changed man.
In an Instagram post published Tuesday, Charles said he spent the last 10 days traveling across South Africa where he met with local students and learned about their culture.
“Learning about the school system, education and their everyday lives was eye opening,” he wrote. “After touring the campus, I sat down with a large group of kids and talked to them about my ignorant comment which degraded their continent.”
“Being able to talk to these kids about my mistake taught me an important lesson about privilege, something that has always been a concept I didn’t fully understand.”
“Through speaking with them, I became aware of the potential impact I may have–both positive and negative. I don’t want to be someone who takes advantage of this privilege.”
We’re glad it was an educational experience for him.
Check out the full post…
I just spent the past 10 days in South Africa. In Cape Town, our first stop was to a local high school. I was nervous to visit after the recent events, however I was met with endless smiles and hugs from kids that came running from all over the school. Learning about the school system, education and their everyday lives was eye opening. After touring the campus, I sat down with a large group of kids and talked to them about my ignorant comment which degraded their continent. The students made the conversation easy, informative and light hearted. Being able to talk to these kids about my mistake taught me an important lesson about privilege, something that has always been a concept I didn't fully understand. Through speaking with them, I became aware of the potential impact I may have – both positive and negative. I don't want to be someone who takes advantage of this privilege, or be someone who is only self-aware. I was also given the opportunity to talk to the principal of the school about gender identity and acceptance, and we had a great conversation. The students aren't allowed to wear makeup or have long nails and there's a strict dress code at the school, but we talked about the importance of self expression. I realize how fortunate and grateful I have been to have the opportunities that I have – and to be supported by people all over the world and called out when I mess up. My ignorance allowed for me to make a massive error. I am extremely sorry for what I said. There are no excuses. No one owes me forgiveness, but I’ve learned a lot from this experience. I hope that the people who might look up to me will be able to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. I recognize my position as an influencer and know that it is so important to be a positive role model for all, and how in many ways, I have failed to do so. I am eager to keep learning and keep growing as a person. This trip has been one that I will never forget. From one school of Eagles to another, thank you Edgemead for such an incredible and humbling experience.