A series of events that glorify racism and violence has left students at Xavier University in Cincinnati disturbed and infuriated. It started on Monday, when a female Xavier student posted a picture of herself in blackface, slyly grinning, to Snapchat. The creepy image was accompanied by the caption, “Who needs white when black lives matter,” referring to the growing Black Lives Matter advocacy movement.
Then, on Tuesday morning, something horrifying appeared in a window of a dormitory in Xavier University’s Fenwick building, facing the campus’s main lawn, according to Raw Story. A student captured and shared an image of a skeleton dressed in a traditional African dashiki hanged by a noose. The scene was eerily reminiscent of a lynching — not your typical Halloween decor, to say the least.
The mock lynching was set up beside a poster emblazoned with the Donald Trump presidential campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Students of Xavier University expressed outrage. “Xavier University your black students may not make up a large percent of your population but we do exist and we do demand the respect that our counterparts receive. We are tired of the blatant racism that is so comfortably shown to us on Xavier’s campus,” wrote Brianna Chenault, who posted a screenshot to Facebook of the student in blackface. “We are tired. This is not okay. A simple apology will not do. There are too many resources readily available to explain why blackface is never acceptable, no matter the reason behind it, for this to ever be okay,” Chenault’s Facebook comment read in part.
A former Xavier student posted an image of the lynching display to Facebook with a caption that read in part, “I am hurt, disappointed, and disgusted by events and pictures that have surfaced from my former home, Xavier University. For those who can’t tell, this picture is of a skeleton wearing a dashiki (a traditional Western African garment). This is sending a clear message to anyone on Xavier’s campus who is not white. Firm action must be taken immediately.”
On Wednesday, about 100 students of Xavier University stood in silent protest on campus, according to Cincinnati’s WCPO news station. Of the white student in blackface, Jeremiah Pennebaker, president of Xavier’s Black Student Association, said, “She thought it would be funny, and she thought this would be acceptable in the culture.”
WCPO first learned of the image from Xavier sophomore Simone Fluker, who said it makes her feel “speechless” and that she “feels bad” for the girl depicted in the photo, because “she has made a mistake that will be with her for the rest of her life.”
— Erica Smith (@urekaxoxo) October 25, 2016
Xavier president Michael J. Graham addressed the fear and anger of the student body and the community by sending a message to students that read:
I am outraged and deeply troubled by recent racist images connected to Xavier students. Racist actions are unacceptable on our campus, and we have mechanisms to respond in a responsible and thoughtful manner. When one of us falls short, we all fall short.
Many of our students, of all races, are in pain over this. Steps are being taken to make sure that all the members of the Xavier community know that we must act with integrity, justice and generosity, in solidarity for and with each other. Please be assured this is being addressed on campus through a variety of channels.
I will personally continue to stay on top of this and keep you updated.
Sadly, two other instances of blackface on campus made news just a month ago. One image, posted to Snapchat, showed four students at the University of North Dakota in the offensive makeup, with the words “Black lives matter” mockingly overlayed. Just days before, a Kansas University student posted a Snapchat image of herself and a friend in similar black masks with the caption, “Feels good to finally be a nigga.” The sick stunt led to the student being obliterated by social media users and ultimately kicked out of school.
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) September 26, 2016
Students at the University of North Dakota (UND) struck again last month, taunting a black student on her own Snapchat. The photo showed three white students laughing and throwing up peace signs with the caption, “Locked the black bitch out.” The victim’s friend, Etonde Maloke, shed light on the awful situation by posting a screenshot to Facebook, explaining, “My friend left her phone in her room and the three kids pictured below took her phone and took the Snapchat pictured below. The University of North Dakota needs to take action against these students for this blatant act of racism.”
UND officials did address the two incidents. University president Mark Kennedy issued a statement that read, in part, “It is abundantly clear that we have much work to do at the University of North Dakota in educating our students and the entire University community on issues related to diversity, inclusion, and respect for others.”
Yahoo Beauty reached out to and heard back from representatives at Xavier University, but did not receive further comments.