GW Faces Controversy Over Racially Insensitive Sorority Shapchat Photo

DU7NxRJXUAEoJNAGeorge Washington University is embroiled in a controversy over the posting of a racially insensitive picture on social media. The sorority snapshot picture shows two white Alpha Phi sorority women holding up a peeled banana with the caption “Name: ‘I’m 1/16 black.’”  Media however is reporting that neither woman posted the photo, so it is not clear who posted photo or added the quotation.  [For full disclosure, I am a full-time law professor at the university].

The photo was reposted on Twitter by Imani Ross, a student at George Washington University, who noted that see saw the photo on the “eve of Black History Month.”

George Washington University Provost Forrest Maltzman called the incident “disturbing, hurtful and not reflective of who I know we are as a community. . . . Images like the one posted on social media can make people question whether they are welcome at the university, and that is unacceptable to me.”

The sorority has announced that three members have been suspended:

On January 31, 2018, a member of our chapter posted a racist image on snapchat that contained two other members in our chapter engaged in offensive and inexcusable behavior. We apologize for the delay in posting this response. We recognize that our earlier response, supplied by our National Headquarters, did not reflect the severity of this racist act. We want to take this opportunity to apologize without qualification and take responsibility for the actions of our members.

We are culpable for this action as a group in which a few felt comfortable making a joke that was distinctly racist, ignorant, and harmful. We are in no way trying to contextualize, excuse, or forgive the events that occurred.

We recognize that there are issues within our organization relating to our privilege and lack of diversity, and we are committed to listening to the voices of those who have been harmed by the actions of those individuals and by our actions as a chapter.

The three members in question are in the process of having their membership terminated.

At this time, we have reached out to the Multicultural Student Services Center in an effort to begin the process towards reconciliation and reeducation.

It is not clear if all of the students were aware of the racist quotation but the matter is under investigation.

Here is the full statement from the university:

“There was an entirely inappropriate posting on social media last night. Whatever the circumstance, or true intention of those involved, the image was disturbing, hurtful and not reflective of who I know we are as a community. 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. Images like the one posted on social media can make people question whether they are welcome at the university, and that is unacceptable to me.

Unfortunately, we have heard and read about too many instances of racist language and imagery on college campuses. They reflect the need for an ongoing discourse about race. Universities are special places that thrive because of the diverse perspectives and background of those who study, teach, research and work on those campuses.

Since the report, we have been in active dialogue with the national headquarters of Alpha Phi and students on campus who have been affected. We take this very seriously.

I hope we utilize these occasions to engage in dialogue across our community. We must remember that words and symbols have tremendous consequences. And, when they are made without regard to how those who receive them react, we can cause harm and hinder the university’s ability to achieve the preeminence to which we all aspire.”


66 thoughts on “GW Faces Controversy Over Racially Insensitive Sorority Shapchat Photo”

  1. A lot of us share genes of Ghengis Khan, so surely there is something we could find out there that can offend us that we don’t know about yet. Is there some affirmative action program we can sign up for? It’s a real drag being reminded of these genes that I carry that when I see strange hats.

    1. Theoretically, bananas are the food of apes and monkeys — aka lower primates — so, put that together with a reference to being black and you could read into it that someone is calling black people lower primates.

      That’s the way racists see it, and that’s the way social justice warriors patrolling social media looking for that kind of nonsense see it. But the vast majority of people have better things on their minds than to notice nonsense like that — so congratulations for being one of that vast majority of people that keep things in proper perspective and don’t get bent out of shape over trivial, juvenile, ridiculous nonsense.

      1. William Bayer – my wife is Asian and she loves bananas. She takes one to work every workday.

        1. All I can say is those two are lucky they didn’t hold up an apple. I would have hunted them down. I am insulted to my core over the presentation of the mythical power of a particular fruit and am not going to stand for it. I’m going to cry now.

    2. 1/16 black — Is this a coded reference to the smallish genitals of a black man? Kudos to her for diversifying penis size, which is something too often overlooked in our shallow age.

  2. I was born in 1953 — a brief 8 years after WWII ended. My last name is German. I was raised in a community that was probably less than 5% German extraction and upwards of 60% Jewish. Anyone that thinks I didn’t take my share of knocks merely for having a German name should think again.

    Did it make me bitter? No.

    Did it teach me that life isn’t always pleasant and people aren’t always fair? You bet.

    What do I think of the raging “controversy” at GW? LOL

    By raising a generation of people that are too fragile to exist in a world that isn’t always pleasant or fair, we are raising a generation of people that are more likely to go ballistic and shoot up a mall or workplace because they’ve never learned that unpleasantness and unfairness IS a part of life.

    If you listen closely, you can hear America getting stupider by the minute.

    1. What went wrong in your life that you did not let the suggestive power of fruit ruin it? Certainly you could have. Probably good money in that today.

  3. I am part Osage Indian. About 1/20 th. Being American Indian is kinda like being a gypsy. There are people out there who won’t hire you to do their drive way repairs if they think you are a gypsy. If they think you are an Indian then they want you to pick up the trash. America the beautiful

    1. Liberty2nd – you still doing the drive-way repair scam. Good money in that. 😉

    1. Hey, Chief. “Amerindian” is an oxymoronic contradiction in terms. From the American perspective, Indians are Indians. From the Indian perspective, Indians are whatever they choose to call themselves. Indians were in this geographical area long before there was anything American as America did not exist before 1789. Indians were Asiatic nomads without a country, surveys or recorded property deeds.

      Duplicitous fraud is not a virtue.

      1. Amerindian, not Athabaskan, Alut or Inuit.

        Learn the genetic and linguistic classification. As it is, you just expose your ignorance.

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