Four White students at Colorado State University appeared in a photograph in blackface that was posted on social media. The caption read “Wakanda forevaa,” referring to the character in the film Black Panther.
One of the four students issued an apology on social media: “This photo of four White students in blackface is indeed horrendous, and understandably appears to portray four racists making fun of African Americans,” she wrote. “The hurtful impact of this photo on minorities is real, but this photo is not the whole story. I am not going to allow a photo, the news media nor CSU to do the talking for me. Just as those who have been hurt have a voice, so do I, and I too am entitled to be heard no less than those who have been offended.”
Kaplan went on to say that the incident “is now damaging my life and placing a stigma on future employment and advanced education.”
In a statement to a local newspaper, Kaplan said that “the damage done to me is way out of proportion to an act of poor judgment during a moment of silliness.” She claims she has received over 60 death threats on social media.
In an email to the college community Joyce McConnell, president of Colorado State University stated that “because of the long and ugly history of blackface in America, this photo has caused a great deal of pain to members of our community.” But she went on to say that “we also affirm that personal social media accounts are not under our jurisdiction. Our community members — students, faculty and staff — can generally post whatever they wish to post on their personal online accounts in accordance with their First Amendment rights.” The four White students will not be punished.
African Americans make up just 2 percent of the nearly 26,000 member undergraduate student body at Colorado State University, according to the latest data supplied to the U.S. Department of Education.