We could start off Black History Month with inspiring stories about pioneering black women you may not have learned about in history class, or the plenty of black-owned beauty brands you can support. But one way we didn’t want to start Black History Month (or any month) was with a racist photo from students at George Washington University.
On February 1st, a photo of two white Alpha Phi sorority members featuring one woman holding a banana peel surfaced on Twitter. The caption read, “I’m 1/16 black.” The photo is believed to have been posted on Snapchat, but Twitter user Imani Ross shared the racist image to her followers, and tagged George Washington University along with the university’s vice provost and dean of student affairs.
If for some odd reason you’re not sure why the photo is problematic: there has been a long, racist history of white people likening black people to monkeys or primates. So a white woman holding a banana peel while saying that she’s “1/16 black” is not only not funny, but racist and derogatory.
Kudos to Imani for making the university aware of the incident — and to the university for responding promptly.
George Washington University released a statement denouncing the photo and actions pictures in it. Provost Forrest Maltzman said, “As a university, we have emphasized our commitment to inclusion and have made clear that ‘You are Welcome Here.’ We do this through our actions and our words.”
GWU’s Panhellenic Association also posted on Facebook, stating that whatever the intention of the photo was, it is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated.
Apparently, three members of Alpha Phi (two in the photo and the one who uploaded the Snap) are in the process of having their membership terminated. Girls, bye.