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The 'new blackface' lesson

“I do not think the girls were trying to be racist; I honestly believe that they do not understand what they did.”

Stetson University student on members of the women’s softball team that thought blackface as a Halloween costume was a good idea

“I feel that these girls, if they have offended anyone, should be told what harmful consequences their costumes may have caused. Instead of sending them to the (dean’s) office, I would instead have them get a look of shame and a reminder to be considerate of others’ feelings as much as possible.”

— Stetson student, Ian Wasser

“We don’t condone that behavior, and it is not an accurate representation of Stetson and what we stand for. I was surprised that they may not have understood the breadth of the impact of their actions.”

— Michelle Espinosa, Stetson’s dean of students

History does indeed repeat itself, because human beings are so damn dumb. Even worse, there are people making excuses for the behavior, blaming on ignorance of history. OK. If that’s the case, I have another question — why have these students not been exposed in our educational system to history and ideas that would have enlightened them enough to think that this was offensive? They shouldn’t need special “diversity training” to figure this out. This bit of fun comes to us from DeLand, Florida. (Local6.com):

Several women on Stetson University’s softball team are under fire over blackface costume photos recently posted on the Internet, according to a Local 6 News report.

Members of the Stetson team dressed up as school basketball star Grlenntys Kicking Stallion Sims on Halloween by painting themselves black, wearing cornrows and fake gold teeth. Some players wore the blackface costumes to a contest to a Deland bar, according to the Stetson student newspaper.

The blackface photos some how ended up on a Web site this month and have since outraged civil rights activists at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, Local 6 reporter Tarik Minor said.

“I can see why people would consider it offensive,” Sims said. “They said they wanted to dress up as us but they didn’t say they were going to paint their bodies or anything. We are real close with the softball team and we didn’t think anything of it. We gave them our jerseys.”

Some people on campus are angry with the photos, saying they remind them of the humiliation and mockery blacks suffered before desegregation, Minor said. “Not too many people know the history of blackface, student Cameo Humes said. “It was a form of basically mocking African Americans by painting their faces black and giving them exaggerated features, such as big lips.”

Leonard Nance, chair of Stetson’s diversity council, said the university plans to sponsor campuswide diversity dialogues and workshops in response to the incident. He said: “This is a perfect teaching moment for us to help students understand why this is inappropriate and unacceptable. It’s nice to know that Stetson has faced some other “teaching moments,” such as this opportunity:

The school’s student newspaper was suspended in 2003 following an April Fool’s edition containing racist, misogynistic jokes and a sex column that many interpreted as promoting domestic violence.

Espinosa said the university learned a great deal from the newspaper incident. “We learned that the quickness of response sends a clear message that that kind of behavior is not accepted, not appropriate and not tolerated on our campus,” she said.

We learned that students sometimes learn more from discussions that arise as the result of difficult situations, real situations and not hypothetical ones. We hope to apply some of what we learned in this situation, too.”

Alrighty then. So, hypothetical situations just don’t cut it anymore as a tool to teach adults about offensive behavior — they need real-life concrete examples of the offensive behavior for the dim bulbs they call brains at Stetson to fire up. Got IQ?

While the incident at Stetson is in the news, it seems like their are plenty of “opportunities” for teaching tolerance around the country. People don’t shoot out of the womb as bigots – this is taught. No one is addressing the fact that this is about unlearning prejudicial cultural upbringing, learning and home environments that promote a complete lack of intellectual curiosity about the world outside of their own (dominant culture) experiences. Real exposure to the history of that outside world would render a thinking person incapable of making such ignorant decisions. All that is offered up is remedial training. (SPLC):

About a dozen high school students in Rising Sun, Ind., caused an uproar last week when they wore Ku Klux Klan outfits to a school Halloween dance.

“I think it gets back to the education we need to do not only as a school but as a community about why these things are unacceptable,” Superintendent Steve Patz told WCOP News. The students involved were told they would have to attend sensitivity training or risk suspension.

At Highland Park High School in Dallas, Tex., students and faculty agreed last week to end “Thug Day,” a three-year homecoming tradition where students at the predominately white school wore Afro wigs and gold teeth to school.

Over in Freeperland, where they claim that racism is not tolerated (is that laughable?), the response is, well, worthy of a thread-pulling, but it’s still up as I type this. I left out the Al “The greatest entertainer ever” Jolson love-fest going on over there.


Actual Freeper Quotes™

They “remember” times before desegregation? How old are these people? Plus, how is someone in blackface so insulting? They’re all @#@&(# retards.”

“There will be even “better” news coming out of Stetson in the coming days and weeks. Some of my friends on College Republicans started a conservative magazine, only to be barred from distribution both on and off campus due to disagreements over the conservative content. All attempts at compromise have been unsuccessful so far. We have already contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and they have taken our case. Hopefully we can settle but we are prepared to protect out legal rights.”

“They committed the greatest of all crimes: ethnic humor at the expense of one of the favored minorities. Had they engaged in lesbianism or insulted Christians or whites there would have been no problem.”

“The funny thing about this is a black is offended by blackface but a black man doing hip hop talking about beating up on cops and Ho’s and playing with his nuts the whole time doesnt offend them in the least. To me Blackface is a lot better than gangster rap.”

“There should be a National Black Face Day. Where all appear in Blackface. It would drive em nuts!”

“No comment required. What were they mad about again?”

“And yet completely acceptable when LIBERAL Ted Danson dressed up in blackface (with minstrel costume) “

“Now in fairness, Danson’s stunt was far from APPROVED. It
wasn’t even accepted or tolerated. Danson was absolutely villified by liberals for the stunt. It even went so far as the NYC mayor excoriating Danson for the event. Many black members even relinquished their memberships to the Friar Club as a result. So to say that it was approved or acceptable to liberals is complete and utter intellectual dishonesty.”

“Yeah, imagine if there were a “Black Sistas” movie or something. We’d never hear the end of it.”

“Seems things have changed at Stetson. One of my kids went there some 15 years ago and I got the impression the place was somewhat conservative.”

“Whites are the only group that is allowed to be made fun of now.”

“The article is so poorly written that it’s hard to tell, but I think they were doing a parody of one particular player who happens to be black. I wonder where the race pimps draw the line. Suppose they left off the shoe polish, but still did the corn rows and gold teeth.”

“What do you think will happen to these players?
A. They will be kicked off the team and banished from participation in any sporting activity, professional or amateur, for the rest of their lives
B. (A) but will also be kicked out of school and prosecuted civilly for Hate Speech Crimes.
C. (A) and (B) and will also have their parents’ homes burned to the ground by angry white liberal mobs.
D. Other”

“She is just having her minstrel period.”

“Of course it was disapproved. In the leftist pecking order, Blacks rank higher than White liberals.”

“I agree..It was completely ignorant.Its 2005 and these so called educated college women should know that blackface antics are an insult and a tasteless joke.

Also see: Blackface– an excellent Wikipedia entry.

Thanks to Fritz of On the Fritz for the pointer.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding