A photo of five members of the Whitworth University women’s soccer team dressed in blackface has gotten them in trouble, reports KXLY. Whitworth University is a liberal arts college in Spokane, Washington, and the private Christian college’s students got a lesson in the backlash that can occur when dressing in blackface — even at an off-campus bowling event.
It was Monday night when the five ladies from the soccer team dressed up as the Jackson 5, and by Wednesday, the blackface-wearing women were suspended in the match against Carleton College. Head coach Jael Hagerott explained the suspension of the unnamed students after their Instagram post went viral. (The user who posted the blackface photo has deleted her Instagram account.)
“In light of the impact that these actions have had on Whitworth and the greater Spokane community, we feel it is in the best interest of all involved to take this action at this time. While their intentions were not malicious, the outcome of their actions was painful for many in our community. We feel that this punitive response is proportional to their actions.”
Of all the photos currently showing up under the #Jackson5 hashtag in Instagram, the photo from Whitworth University originally tagged as such no longer shows up therein.
Tim Demant, Whitworth Director of Athletics, explained why the photo was deemed especially inappropriate for a Christian school.
“As a Christ-centered university that believes in the value of all individuals, we are seeking to use this situation as an opportunity to educate, redeem and restore.”
The students who dressed up in blackface explained that they didn’t know it was offensive.
As reported by WSFB, the blackface incident became an issue when the Instagram post of the Whitworth University women’s soccer players went viral, with their homage to the Jackson 5 — replete with wigs and Afros — was seen as offensive to some.
“Oh baby, give me one more chance. #Jackson5 #thisiswhitworthsoccer.”
The university noted that the history of blackface is one that can be of offense to some African Americans, especially in light of the way blackface was used in films in the past whereby black actors weren’t hired and white actors painted their faces with shoe polish or black makeup to try and emulate other races. This was usually done in a demeaning way, and the new blackface incident will be used as a learning lesson for the students in question.
[Image via Instagram]