Arizona, a state that is regularly accused of having a serious issue with people of color, received another stain to its reputation. Last week, four white female students at Arizona State University showed up to a football game wearing Black face. The school asked students to wear all-Black attire to celebrate the new uniforms in their game against the Missouri Tigers. This is when a few students took it too far.
The game was televised on ESPN, so the entire world saw the action go down both on and off the field. Thousands of people have expressed their anger at the students for their insensitivity. But while many were outraged, some found no reason to be offended.
One has to laugh at the irony that a school with students showing up to a game in Black face also happens to be highly dependent upon African Americans to run and jump, thus bringing millions to the university in revenue each year. The idea of Black men working up a sweat for white folks in the stands wearing Black face is beyond disturbing.
We also can’t forget that Arizona received national attention for being the only state that would not support the Martin Luther King holiday; and also for some of the most Draconian immigration laws in the country. Arizona State University made news itself for refusing to give an honorary degree to the nation’s first Black president, even though they’d given a slew of these degrees out in the past. Apparently, they don’t think that being the first Black president in American history is that big of a deal.
One thing we know about racism is that much of it is learned. We also know that young people must also learn racial sensitivity. In both cases, Arizona State University appears to have failed the test. Students are a reflection of those who teach them, and it’s interesting that these four white women made the plan to wear Black face, went out and bought the makeup, told their friends about their plan, put on the makeup and went to the game, without anyone even taking a second to realize that what they were doing would be incredibly offensive to millions of people.
That, my friends, is what happens when young people are not educated. Arizona State University should be embarrassed for this behavior. But given the racially-disgusting behavior of university officials in the past, they are probably quite proud.
Dr.Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.
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