Another #blackface controversy hits Stellenbosch University
Stellenbosch University is investigating why two white women painted themselves black to attend a residence party.
The party, at Heemstede Dameskoshuis, on Thursday night, apparently had a space theme.
In an apology posted on Facebook, one of the students said they took full responsibility for the incident at the “stellar space party”. She said they painted their bodies dark purple and covered themselves in glitter.
SU spokesperson Martin Viljoen said on Friday the university’s equality unit was investigating. It was established recently to deal with cases of unfair discrimination and sexual harassment.
“In the light of a similar incident in 2014, as well as national reports on acts of racism in our country, management regards the incident in a very serious light. Further, management condemns of all forms of racism and acknowledges the damaging effects on its students, staff, and members of the public.”
In 2014, a pair of students painted themselves black and dressed up as tennis players Venus and Serena Williams.
“Hanging out with the William sisters last night at the Boli’s 21st. Lets hope they don’t get kicked out of the varsity for this one,” read the caption of a photo posted on Facebook at the time.
On Friday, SU student representative council vice chairperson James de Villiers said any “insensitive act of painting oneself should not be acceptable in 2016”.
“This ignorant act goes against our values as it further perpetuates the exclusionary institutional culture within this university,” he said.
He said “blackfacing” dated back to the days of slavery, where black people were fetishised and treated as animals on stage. Known examples were Jim Crow, and Zip Coon performed by George Dixon.
“These shows were characterisations done by white people, where the expectation was created that if you have a darker skin, no matter what your background, you would conform to various undermining stereotypes.”
De Villiers called for harsh measures against the two students.