Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More Stupid Facebook Tricks

6 Hamline Football Players Suspended For Blackface ST. PAUL (AP) ? Hamline University has suspended six football players from the team for wearing blackface and dressing as African tribesmen during an off-campus Halloween party.

A spokeswoman for the liberal arts college in St. Paul, JacQui Getty, said the school was investigating whether the students violated policy.

Hamline also is investigating two cheerleaders who helped the players with their costumes and reportedly posted photos on them on the Internet social-networking site Facebook.

Getty said the matter was brought to the university's attention by students who were upset by the photos on the Web.

If the investigation finds that a university policy was violated, the students could get a warning or be suspended from school, Getty said. She expects the investigation to be finished within the next couple of weeks.

The names of the players involved were not released.

Tasha Simmons, a friend of the students involved, said the matter has been blown out of proportion and taken out of context. "People misunderstood," she said.

She said the costumes -- which included black Lycra-type clothing and tight black pants -- were inventive. "It wasn't supposed to be offensive whatsoever," she said.

The students were sorry that people are suggesting that their motives were racist, Simmons said. "They have friends who are African-American and Native American," she said. "They have diversity in their families."

The players were not suspended from school but will not be able to play the rest of the football season.

Samuel Imbo, leader of Hamline's African-American Studies program, said he thought it was appropriate for the university to find out "who did what and why they did it.

Imbo, an African immigrant, said it's possible that the students didn't know that painting their faces black might offend someone.

"They probably did not know, but they should know," he said. "The offense here is not even being aware of American history. And not knowing this history leads people to do this kind of thing."

About 100 people gathered last Friday to discuss the incident at a campus forum.

The Hamline incident joins a list of recent controversies where students masqueraded as blacks.
Photo and article found at (sorry, no permalink available, so you'll have to scroll down). More discussion on the article can be found at that site's forum. Showing up at a party in blackface is dumb and racist. Posting the photographic evidence on Facebook is the height of stupidity. Like a previous incident discussed here, the usual excuses from the perps are trotted out: "we have black friends," "how was I supposed to know this would be offensive?" "it's just a big misunderstanding," ad nauseum. Since I feel the need to repeat myself (with slight modification where applicable):
I'm sure that the student(s) are very embarrassed (I mean, come one: what do you expect when you post inflamatory visual materials on a public Facebook profile? Of course other students are going to notice!!!), and obviously doing some damage control - although once someone utters "I'm not racist", my inclination is to roll my eyes in disbelief.

Of course, before you actually go using blackface on your blog (or Myspace or Facebook profile), you might wish to consult some sage advice.

Naturally, the tendency to obfuscate matters of racist or sexist behavior by playing the "good intentions" card (i.e., "Person X didn't intend to be racist, it just unfortunately looked that way") is pretty well par for the course in among Euro-Americans; whereas people of color tend to look at the tangible behaviors themselves (an approach I generally advocate taking).

In the meantime, the necessary conversation about the extent that American society is harboring latent (and periodically overt) racism both at individual and structural levels is long overdue.
Hat tip to Oh No a WoC PhD.

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