Blackface on an HBCU Campus?: What occurs when Cultural Illiteracy and Racial Bias Reigns Supreme

In a climate where many whites are repeatedly displaying for the world that they have no restraint in regards to displaying horrific racially based bias toward African-Americans, no one, and I do mean no one, could have ever anticipated that Brooke Merino, a white female freshman student at Prairie View A & M University, a Historically Black University, would possess the unmitigated gall to post a ‘selfie’ of herself in Blackface with the caption “When you just tryna fit in at your hbcu.”

Moments such as this remind me of why I think that it is critically important for all Americans regardless of their race/ethnicity to be forced to take at least one African-American studies course. The dangers of anyone existing in ignorance should be apparent to all; particularly, when such ignorance is not only unnecessary, but also revolving around such an important topic as ‘race relations’.

KRS-ONE (Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone) of Boogie Down Productions fame, succinctly addresses the pernicious and reverberating evils that afflict all American students in the following lyric,

I believe that if you’re teaching history
Deal with straight up facts no mystery
Teach the student what needs to be taught
Cause Black and White kids both take shorts
When one doesn’t know about the other ones’ culture
Ignorance swoops down like a vulture

Although there has been a rush to denounce the reprehensible actions of Brooke Merino, I would admonish many of those who have rushed to address this matter that the vast majority of students have absolutely no comprehension of the history of American race relations, the source of contemporary racial inequities, the historic contributions of persons of African descent on the North American continent, or even possess the ability to define prejudice, discrimination, or racism.

It is the comprehensive ignorance that ill-informs the vast majority of ‘discussions’ regarding American ‘race matters’ that is inexcusable. Particularly when one considers that such ignorance could be eradicated within a generation or two if this nation ‘doubled-down’ upon educational programs designed to illuminate the contributions of all Americans via culturally relevant curriculum.

One can rest assured that until the aforementioned priorities take hold in this multi-racial/ethnically-diverse nation that incident such as the one involving this Prairie View A & M University student will become increasingly frequent.

Who ya’ rootin’ for?

Dan Freeman

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016

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