University of Florida fraternity members wore blackface to party

the latest racism from a university


University of Florida fraternity has drawn sharp criticism this week after two members darkened their skin and went to a fraternity party dressed in a style meant to represent African Americans.

On Thursday and Friday, social media sites were abuzz with news of the event as students and others passed around a photo showing two Beta Theta Pi members wearing “blackface” and donning thick gold chains, baseball caps and pants that hang so low they show their boxer shorts.

The theme of Wednesday night’s Halloween party, which was held off campus, was “Rock-stars and Rappers.”

Officials from the university and Beta Theta Pi’s national headquarters expressed disappointment on Friday. UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said administrators will hold a town hall Thursday about the issue and its effect on the Gainesville campus of almost 50,000 students.

“We recognize that what they did is hurtful and perpetuates racist stereotypes of African Americans,” Sikes said. “We work very hard to create a welcoming environment for all of our students regardless of race or ethnic background.”

Blackface, a form of theatrical makeup, was used for decades to demean blacks by representing them as caricatures.

“We are outraged about it,” said Stevenson Chery, a senior at UF who’s from Orlando and a former president of UF’s Haitian student organization. “Students should know that this is wrong.”

The fraternity’s president, Ethan McMahon, issued a public apology Friday for the actions of the two members.

“While their actions were not intended with any malice or ill-will to any members of our community, clearly they were offensive …,” McMahon wrote in a prepared statement. “Our brothers’ actions were wrong — as was the inaction of our other chapter members for not stopping it — and we are truly, truly sorry.”

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