School officials are investigating a group of white North Dakota college students after they posted a picture of themselves in blackface with the caption “Black lives matter.”
According to Raw Story, a group of female students at the University of North Dakota (UND) are facing potential reprimand after the image was uploaded to Facebook. The incident comes just days after three other white UND students reportedly stole the phone of an African American student, locked her out of her own dorm room, took a picture of themselves laughing, and then posted the image to Snapchat with the caption “Locked the black bitch out.”
“I am appalled that within 48 hours two photos with racially-charged messages have been posted on social media and associated with the UND campus community,” university president Mark Kennedy, according to Raw Story. “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.”
Wearing blackface, once common among turn-of-the-century performers who mocked black people in their shows, is now widely condemned as racist. Yet the practice has become a major issue on college campuses: just this month, a student at Quinnipiac University was expelled for posting a Snapchat photo of a white woman in blackface with the caption “black lives matter,” as was a white Kansas State University student who posted a Snapchat image of white students flashing faux gang signs while wearing dark facial masks with the caption “finally feels good to be a n***a.” Similarly, students at Fairfield University were heavily criticized in February for hosting a “ghetto” party; although no one was reported as wearing blackface, attendees wore baggy clothes and held bottles of 40 oz. Coors Light.
Blackface has also reemerged as a political issue in recent years. In 2015, an Oklahoma mayoral candidate was forced to apologize to voters after videos surfaced of him performing in blackface as a female character named “Pollyester Kotton.” And more recently, Donald Trump surrogate and prosperity gospel preacher Pastor Mark Burns tweeted a cartoon that depicted Hillary Clinton in blackface. The cartoon was meant to accuse Clinton of pandering to African Americans, but the tweet and cartoon was panned as inherently racist in and of itself.