Society

UCA Fraternity Suspended Over Blackface Costume

| by Michael Doherty

A fraternity at the University of Central Arkansas has been suspended after a picture posted to social media showed a student wearing blackface make up and a Bill Cosby-styled sweater.

The UCA chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma has been suspended by the fraternity's headquarters, according to a tweet from Sigma Tau Gamma. University president Tom Courtway has also released a statement saying that the university would investigate the matter, according to KTHV.

"This institution embraces all races, cultures, and nationalities," said Courtway. "We strive each day to be welcoming, inclusive and diverse, and will always continue to do so."

The photo in question, in which a student dressed in black face paint and wore a sweater in a style popularized by Bill Cosby, was posted to a private Instagram account by a Sigma Tau Gamma member.

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"The actions of these students is completely unacceptable," said Sigma Tau Gamma in a tweet responding to the UCA Students for the Propagation of Black Culture. "The chapter has been suspended immediately."

The student who wore the costume has reportedly been expelled from the fraternity, according to WPIX.

"Being black is not a costume," said Brenton Johnson. "I instantly was upset. Like, I got angry because it was a clear and blanket disrespect."

Johnson said that he hoped the incident would help teach others at the school about the racism faced by black students. "You educate people, you let them know how it made you feel and hopefully they will take that into consideration," he said.

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The student who wore the costume issued an apology on his Instagram page shortly before deleting his account. He said that he has received death threats after the costume was posted online.

"I apologize from the bottom of my heart and absolutely never intended this to happen the way that it did," he said in his apology. "I never ever would have done this if I would have known the domino effect that follow[ed]."

UCA faced another racism scandal in April, when the school's student-published yearbook, The Scroll, needed to be recalled after the term "thug faces" was used in a caption for a photo of a group of black students.

The Scroll released an apology after the incident, saying that the staff understood how the terminology was offensive.

"After discussing the issue with individuals who voiced concerns about the use of this term, we understand that the word used in this context is highly offensive to many," the apology stated.

Sources: KTHV (2), WPIX / Photo credit: KARK via Twitter

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