Friday, February 19, 2016

Whitewater: Facebook Black Face Misunderstanding


No, it's a facial treatment.

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper didn't see the picture posted on Facebook as a harmless image of students getting their pores dredged. She sent out a statement decrying the RACIST image.

A Wisconsin senator got involved and Kopper has backed down.


The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater chancellor says an image that initially prompted concerns about race relations on campus appears to have been a misunderstanding.

Beverly Kopper verified to News 3 that her statement issued Thursday morning about a racist image on social media was connected to a photo of two students who some thought were wearing blackface paint. In the statement, she called the image “hurtful and destructive to our campus community.”

Kopper later said the students said they just had a facial and took a picture. She said the students did not mean for it to be harmful and did not know the implications.

In the initial statement, Kopper said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Tom Rios has formed a group that has already begun meeting with students, researching these issues, and working on the development of an action plan for moving forward. She said the group will meet next week to discuss an event that will allow the campus “to capture the student voice and develop a collective response to these issues.”

“Some of our multicultural and nontraditional students feel the environment on campus is not welcoming to all," Kopper wrote. “Over and over, the students in attendance expressed their need to be heard and for campus to do more than just talk.”

Oh, good grief.

If there are racial problems at Whitewater, those should be addressed. However, sometimes a cigar actually is just a cigar, and a facial is just a facial.

It's nuts that the reaction of Kopper and those responsible for bringing the picture to her attention was to assume the students in the photo posted the image as a representation of racial hate.

...Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, issued a statement Thursday and called the administration's actions against the students a "racial overreaction."

"The students shared a picture on social media showing them with the facial product on their faces and the material just happened to be black in color. The posting contained no racist statement and the students are simply standing in the picture," Nass said in the statement.

Nass said the university did not fully review the picture and its context before issuing a racially-charged statement.

"The official statement misled students, parents and the public by confirming that a racist event had occurred, even though it really hadn't," Nass said.

I'm a bit surprised that the students in the photo didn't realize that putting it on Facebook could be a problem.

Being members of the Bubble Wrap Generation should have made them more sensitive to the black face imagery.

Didn't they know someone would flip out about it?

Don't they know about the NO BLACK FACE rule, whatever the context?

I guess the students were just thinking about the facial and didn't even think about the appearance of the skin treatment in racial terms. How sweetly naive!

In any event, I'm glad Sen. Nass intervened and helped bring attention to the fact that students at Whitewater are condemned to walking on eggshells. What a great learning environment!

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