On Sunday, December 22, 2013, after two days of silence, recently fired PR executive Justine Sacco has issued a formal apology to the world for her insensitive, and racially charged tweet made while on her way to visit Africa. The tweet, which is no longer accessible as her twitter account has been deleted, read "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!".
After two days of silence the former director of communications for InterActive Corp. (IAC), Sacco, told ABC news that the reason why she is just today apologizing after her tweet has made international news which resulted in her being released from her job, is because she wanted to make sure that her official statement of apology reached South Africa first.
South Africa, a country rooted with the juxtaposition of beautiful resources and ugly historical battles for humanity since its forced colonization, is also the home of Sacco's billionaire father and Sacco's own birthplace. After sharing her apology with The Star, Sacco gave ABC this statement:
"Words cannot express how sorry I am, and how necessary it is for me to apologize to the people of South Africa, who I have offended due to a needless and careless tweet," Sacco said in the statement. "There is an AIDS crisis taking place in this country, that we read about in America, but do not live with or face on a continuous basis. Unfortunately, it is terribly easy to be cavalier about an epidemic that one has never witnessed firsthand.
"For being insensitive to this crisis -- which does not discriminate by race, gender or sexual orientation, but which terrifies us all uniformly -- and to the millions of people living with the virus, I am ashamed.
"This is my father's country, and I was born here. I cherish my ties to South Africa and my frequent visits, but I am in anguish knowing that my remarks have caused pain to so many people here; my family, friends and fellow South Africans. I am very sorry for the pain I caused."
For a public relations executive, the fact that the initial tweet ever existed is baffling. The fact that someone learned, trained, and paid in a field that studies, promotes, and presents the best image of businesses and brands could haphazardly shoot off 140 characters stemmed in race, and bigotry is unreal. For all intents and purposes, high level public relations executive Sacco broke the first rule of PR. She became the story. It was speculated that Sacco would have the standard 'My phone was stolen/disgruntled employee hacked my account/silly young intern must have accidentally logged onto my account instead of his' defense, or at least something like it.
Instead, what Sacco issued was an apology stemmed in an transparent attempt to suddenly become a nationalist. "This is my father's country," Sacco boldly proclaims in her apology while going on to say it is also her birthplace. A bold and poorly chosen group of words for a person to use when issuing an apology on a joke made about how she doesn't have to identify with a country's ails because she is white. Unknowingly, Sacco re-affirmed a thought process that South Africans of all races have fought tirelessly to dispel in its apartheid riddled history, that ownership of the land comes with all disregard to the inhabitants of a land.
Sacco also acknowledges that millions of people have AIDS, and her being in America now, has made the disease so distant and unreal, that she has become 'cavalier' about the epidemic. Perhaps Sacco doesn't know about the millions of people in the United States alone, that have AIDS, an estimated 1,148,200 ages 13 and older at the end of 2009 according to the Center for Disease Control. Either way, the idea that you make fun of other peoples misfortunes because you do not go through them yourself is not a good defense for a child, let alone a public relations expert.
Sacco's apology is as brazen and immaturely developed as the tweet swiftly and ignorantly kicked out to show all of her friends she made a funny. What amazing thing that did come out of this, was that someone purchased the domain name www.justinesacco.com and had it redirected to Aid for Africa, an AIDS relief charity.