8 October 2019
Justice. It is one of the core beliefs and standards of the United States. As a young generation of activists arises, it seems they are trying their best to hold people more accountable than ever before. This is particularly true in cases of racism. Whole communities are pissed off and hungry; America’s next big racist seems to be what is on the menu.
However, the fall out of the now infamous CSU blackface photo has me wondering if we are handling these situations the right way.
Let me start by saying that I was incredibly offended by the photo. I am not even going to skirt around the “is it racism” question. It is racism, and it is blatant and out there for the world to see. The exchange may have started off innocently: a few college kids testing out a charcoal peel face mask, but it soon turned to something much more sinister all together.
Somewhere between face masks and joking, someone in the group pointed and laughed that they now looked black. Slowly peeling back an age-old racist tendency to mock the black community, they began posing with X’s on their chests and posting a photo with the caption “Wakanda Forever.” This kind of behavior, whether it was intentional or not, perpetuates hate and stigma around black people.
We are not your joke. We are not your social media post. And, dammit, blackface is never funny.
I do not see hate, I see ignorance. I see people who did not think about the gravity of their actions because, frankly, they never had to. They did not have to grow up a person of color in a society that has historically kept them hushed. They do not understand how a superhero movie like Black Panther could mean so much to a people who are too often painted as the villain.
Since the photo hit the internet, the female student has been bullied, harassed and even fired from her job. To be honest—unpopular opinion alert—this seems more like hate to me than the post itself. This is not how change happens. This creates an us vs. them mentality that we have been fighting against for so long.
This sort of racism is a learned behavior, and as we know, all learned behaviors can be unlearned. Instead of crucifying them, let us teach them.
So no, I do not stand behind groups who are hoping to get their students expelled and even further punished. In its place, I think they should be required to do community service in the black community, or even maybe take a women’s and ethnic studies course.
I do not think that the perpetuation of cancel culture is the answer here.