Minority students at Bethel University are angry after a white senior class mate dressed in black face during a talent competition.
The incident happened during the universities annual “Mr. BU” talent competition, which raises money and awareness for the student group Acting on AIDS.
According to attendees, during the skit’s first several songs, the senior stood with his back to the crowd. Then, as the closing song by rapper Lil Wayne begun, the white student turned around, exposing his face, which was painted black.
“Here we are in 2010, and still a ton of people don’t realize why this might hurt people,” Ruben Rivera, a history professor at Bethel told Startribune.com. “Blackface is an expression of deliberate and unconscious racism in America.”
Seeing the controversy, the five men who performed the skit issued an email to all Bethel University faculty and Undergrads stating they had not intended to offend or hurt anyone with their impersonation of Lil Wayne, which also included dreadlocks, gold teeth and baggy pants.
“However, we realize our skit was offensive and hurtful,” the e-mail stated. “We are saddened by the fact that we caused pain and offense to our brothers and sisters. Ignorance is not an excuse”
The university states that they are treating the event as a bias incident, and is investigating.
According to the universities handbook, the possible consequences for the incident can include: a behavioral warning, suspension from co-curricular activities and reconciliation.
As of press time there was no comment regarding the consequences the university decided to take regarding the students performance, but this is not the first time that white students have appeared in black face on college campuses.
As previously reported, in February a college in San Diego came under fire after hosting a “Compton cook-out.”
In 2007, Macalester College in St. Paul censured a student for attending a campus house party wearing blackface and a noose around his neck, accompanied by a student dressed as a Ku Klux Klan member.
That same year, Hamline University, also in St. Paul, suspended six players from its football team for donning blackface and body paint to impersonate African tribesmen for an off-campus Halloween party.
SMH, this is totally unacceptable and ignorance can’t be a lifelong excuse, but on the same note, how can we expect others to respect us, when we can’t respect ourselves?
What do you think, should the students be punished and what can steps can we take as African Americans to improve the way we are perceived? Let us know.