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Colorado State Won’t Punish Students Posing in Blackface Due to 1st Amendment

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Colorado State University has decided that it will not punish a group of students who posed in blackface on social media, according to the Denver Post. Colorado State University President Joyce McConnell says the students did not violate any school policies and that any punishment would violate their First Amendment rights.

The photo surfaced on social media with three male students and one female wearing blackface with the caption “Wakanda forevaa,” in reference to Marvel’s Black Panther. The students were wearing charcoal masks, but it was the caption that made the photo inflammatory.

“Because of the long and ugly history of blackface in America, this photo has caused a great deal of pain to members of our community,” McConnell wrote in a letter to students and faculty. “We have heard from many of you — and we hear you. Moreover, we respect your voices. We know that images like this one — whether consciously racist or not — can perpetuate deliberate racism and create a climate that feels deeply hostile.

“We also affirm that personal social media accounts are not under our jurisdiction. Our community members — students, faculty and staff — can generally post whatever they wish to post on their personal online accounts in accordance with their First Amendment rights.”

Rather than punishment, McConnell called for everyone at Colorado State to use this as a learning moment and for everyone on campus to “listen, and to hear, all the voices that make up this wonderful, diverse campus family so we can move forward together, stronger than ever.”

According to the Daily Mail, the female student in the photo apologized on Facebook that has since been deleted.

“We all make mistakes and learn from them. I deeply regret any pain that my insensitive actions have caused,” her post reportedly read. “My mistake has hurt others, but it has also caused others to make me an unwarranted target. As we share our experience at CSU let’s all learn together.”

Colorado State has said that next week it will unveil details about events and conversations they are planning to address the blackface issue.


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