A University of Mississippi senior is speaking out after being featured in a controversial Facebook post shared by one of the school’s most prominent donors.
On Wednesday, Ed Meek — for whom Ole Miss’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media is named — uploaded photos of general studies major Mahoghany Jordan and her friend and fellow student Kiyona Crawford in a Facebook post blaming the “late-night” postgame scenes for causing a decline in school enrollment and local real estate values.
Jordan and Crawford, both of whom are young black women, are shown wearing figure-hugging night-out dresses, but neither were involved in the fights or arrests Meek says occurred after Saturday night’s Ole Miss game. The two women are merely crossing the street.
The post has garnered over 1,000 comments, 575 shares, and 264 reactions so far. pic.twitter.com/39t0BTRjI4
— The Daily Mississippian (@thedm_news) September 19, 2018
“I hesitated until now to publish these pictures, but I think it is important that our community see what the camera is seeing at 2 a.m. after a ballgame,” the 77-year-old Meek wrote. He added that locals should “protect the values we hold dear that have made Oxford [Miss.] and Ole Miss known nationally.”
But Meek deleted the post following backlash from commenters who accused it of being racist and shaming, with many pointing out that many of the weekend’s incidents involved white men. Chancellor Jeff Vitter also denounced the post as having an “unjustified racial overtone.”
“I have done as you requested, Chancellor,” Meek responded in a Facebook comment. “I am sorry I posted those pictures but there was no intent to imply a racial issue. My intent was to highlight we do have a problem in The Grove and on the Oxford Square.”
Meek also posted an apology on his own Facebook page, but has since deleted it.
The Meek School of Journalism and New Media also has distanced itself from Meek. Faculty members and school dean Will Norton Jr. issued a video statement calling his post “reprehensible” and not representative of their commitment to diversity. The school also hosted a listening session on Thursday night to address the issue.
The school’s diversity committee shared its own statement “condemning the racist and sexist tone and content” in Meek’s post.
“The depiction of two of our University of Mississippi students in this post was inexcusable. We understand that many members of our community are feeling justifiably hurt by Dr. Meek’s post, and we support them as they make their voices heard in coming days.”
Jordan, meanwhile, has written an essay for the school’s Daily Mississippian newspaper in response. In it, she says she was taken aback by being called out in Meek’s post.
“Ed Meek’s post was not meant for me nor my good friend Kiyona Crawford,” she wrote. “We weren’t the ones fighting Alabama fans at a tent in the Grove, we weren’t harassing our LGBTQIA+ counterparts, nor were we the ones fighting in front of bars around the Square. However, somehow for Meek, the blame for the university’s enrollment decline and city’s decline in property value was easier to associate with two women of color as opposed to the particular demographic that has been at the forefront of the school’s most controversial moments by far.”
Jordan also addressed the implication that her dress was problematic.
“The post reeks of racist ideology as well as misogyny and is not representative of who either of us are,” she shared. “We work tirelessly for the means to have a taste of the college experience many take for granted. Personally, I have worked hard to embrace my voluptuousness — a term that, freshman year, I wouldn’t have been able to confidently use. I have worked hard to accept my rich, melanated skin tone. I have pushed through the injustices brought to me because of being a woman, all of which I have no control over.
“The two things that automatically put me at a disadvantage in our society, you’ll never completely understand,” she continued. “In closing, I relinquish being over-sexualized, scapegoated, and invalidated by anyone. I deserve to feel secure in my skin on this campus and in this town just as my counterparts do and I will continue to carry on as such.”
Jordan added that she did not need an apology from Meek, who is now the target of a petition to have his name removed from the journalism school.
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