College Student Performed Skit as Lil Wayne in Blackface
Ignoring a good century of racial progress and pretty much all common sense, a senior at Bethel University in Minnesota recently performed a multi-song skit for students sporting blackface in an attempt to impersonate Lil Wayne. Unsurprisingly, the backlash was immediate, with the university officials launching an investigation and a subsequent apology from the obviously-spooked student group involved.
"Here we are in 2010, and still a ton of people don't realize why this might hurt people," said Ruben Rivera, a history professor at Bethel who has counseling students on the matter. "[Blackface] is an expression of deliberate and unconscious racism in America."
In the wake of growing pressure, the student and other skit partners sent an e-mail to all Bethel students and faculty apologizing for their stupid move. According to reports, the impersonation of Wayne prominently featured cartoonish dreadlocks, gold teeth and baggy pants.
"We realize our skit was offensive and hurtful," read the message. "We are saddened by the fact that we caused pain and offense to our brothers and sisters."
Is an apology really enough, though? Other potential consequences besides a behavioral warning include suspension from co-curricular activities and reconciliation. An open, democratic forum to discuss the incident and lingering effects of racism would be a good start.