Two unrelated on-campus blackface incidents at Oklahoma State University within the same week have prompted students to protest the occurrences.
The first took place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when four white female students — two of them wearing dark beauty face masks — of the Stillwater campus snapped a picture of themselves in front of a University flag. The caption they wrote for the Instagram picture read: “Celebrating our first MLK Day off of school!”
Some days later, an OSU student also posted a Snapchat of herself wearing a dark beauty face mask. The caption read: “When he says he only likes black girls,” reports the Daily Mail.
The pictures went viral and stirred an immediate negative reaction from other members of the student body.
“What a shame that some Cowboys have exposed such an ugly side of themselves,” wrote the University’s African-American Student Association as a comment to the Instagram picture.
“OSU, what are you going to do?”
About 50 members of the association protested in front of President Burns Hargis’ office on Jan. 23. Some of them carried signs that read “Being black is not a costume” and “Blackface is never funny.”
“We’re very disgusted and annoyed by the situation and the lack of care from some of our fellow students,” commented Terrance Williams, the association’s vice president.
Kandice Burgess, the female student behind the Snapchat blackface picture, has issued a public apology for wearing the beauty mask.
Burgess stated she is “deeply sorry for those that I have offended” but claimed she did not mean “at all to be racist”.
She had never “heard of blackface” until her picture went viral, she claimed.
“Clearly, that picture was a result of stupidity, but it is also clear that there was no harm intended,” she wrote.
“I did not say or imply anything about whites being superior to blacks. I did not say anything negative about blacks. I did not hear about the girls with their masks.”
“I made a mistake. I am owning up to it. I just want everyone to know that I did not intentionally try to offend. I did not intentionally try to put down blacks.”
Burgess stated she was “absolutely devastated” to find out that there are people who consider her a racist.
“Racism is a problem that I am strongly against,” she wrote. “I’ve given speeches over it, wrote papers over it, and more”.
“I detest racism. I was hoping I was going to be a part of a movement against racism. Ironically, I guess I am.”
The four female college students in the Instagram photo also offered an apology for causing “emotional distress to many individuals.”
“While it was never our intention to cause harm, we take full responsibility for the impact of this situation,” they said in a statement.
OSU’s director of communications, Gary Shutt, said the university will give the four women training and “educational steps” on understanding the consequences of their controversial actions, New York Daily News reports.
Sources: Daily Mail, New York Daily News / Photo credit: TeamsandThemes.com, Instagram, Snapchat via Daily Mail