It seems one student at Abilene Christian University in Texas has been skipping Bible study class, perhaps to watch old minstrel shows instead? According to the New York Daily News, a video of a female student in blackface was uploaded to Snapchat, sparking a backlash. The footage shows the student with black makeup on her face and a pair of big, red, fake lips, with the caption, “this is why black lives matter exists.”
“I’m a strong black woman,” the student said as her cohorts laugh in the background.
The university has issued a statement denouncing the video and saying the students involved have been expelled. “I cannot emphasize strongly enough that this kind of hurtful behavior has no place on our campus or on behalf of [Abilene Christian University]. Whether on social media or in person, we must hold ourselves to high standards of accountability for what we publish or say,” University President Phil Schubert wrote. “We must and can do better as we work together to build an inclusive, diverse campus community in which each person is respected and loved.”
The university describes its culture as a “values-based educational experience” that is “uniquely equipped to educate the next generation of Christian leaders — men and women ready to apply their faith to their field of study and their chosen vocation.” The Bible, the guide for many Christians, includes several verses on how we should treat one another. It says in John 13:31: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Ridiculing people of color for their mere existence doesn’t seem in line with the kind of Christian values the University champions.
This notion of loving one another seems to have escaped this particular student and another at a religious-affiliated college. At Xavier University, a Jesuit Catholic university in Cincinnati, a student hopped on Snapchat to post a photo of herself in blackface to mock Black Lives Matter. “Who needs white when black lives matter?” she captioned the image. Soon after, a lynching scene in which a skeleton dressed in a dashiki hanging from a noose with a Trump-Pence flag next to it appeared on campus.
At the University of Central Arkansas, Sigma Tau Gamma member Charles “Brock” Denton dressed up as Bill Cosby and added blackface. Denton said in an apology, “I am the farthest thing from discrimination [sic]. As a matter of fact, I fight for equality every day. I have been writing a book for two years on what it really means to be a good person … I am by no means better than anybody else. Social media has corrupted society in regard to heated controversial topics such as this.” Perhaps in the research for that book, he failed to read up on the history of blackface, why it is so offensive and counterproductive to the very equality he says he is fighting for “every day.”
At Kansas State University, Paige Shoemaker decided to have a little fun with her L’Oréal clay facial mask, and Snapchatted a photo of herself and her brunette cohort with the caption, “Feels good to finally be a nigga.” Of course, Shoemaker and her homie issued an apology, saying, “Ask anyone who knows us, we are the most accepting and least racist people. We know that we will ride up and learn from this mistake. We will be better … We know what we did was wrong.”
With the many controversies of blackface on the Internet, it seems strange that college students, especially those who have been learning about United States history since elementary school, would continue to do it. How many expulsions and social media backlashes do people need to understand that this is unacceptable?