A picture's worth a thousand words, especially when it's a Snapchat.
A screenshot of a Snapchat of four white students, two of them in blackface, circulated Twitter on Thursday.
The original tweet by “Jas,” explained that it was a hard decision for her to post. In the photo, the text over the Snapchat read, “We for racial equality boys. Bout to get this free college now that I'm black.”
I thought long and hard about posting this but it hit an emotional spot for me for people to think that i did not EARN what was given to me because of my race. pic.twitter.com/5ulc1X3jUC— jas✨ (@jxxsie_) February 28, 2019
“To see these actions from people (at UT) really hurts because I did not think that people would not only belittle a race and what they stand for but also degrade the earnings of hardworking people because of the complexion of their skin,” a follow-up Tweet by Jas said.
“And what’s even crazier is that my Caucasian friends basically told me to silence my thoughts about it because they did not want their friend to be mad at them,” Jas added in another Tweet.
UT News released a statement acknowledging that the university was made aware of the photo and that the administration does not condone the actions.
“The image is repulsive and the caption abhorrent,” the news release said. “The racism displayed in this image does not represent the behavior we expect of students or our Volunteer values.”
Federal law does not allow the university to share the student names or ways in which the university is handling the matter with the individual students, but students on Twitter investigated to find the identities of who they believe is in the picture.
One of the female students involved apologized to Jas in a direct message, which was then shared in a response to the original Tweet.
“... I just want to apologize, I respect struggle and I didn’t grow up with much either so him making those comments is ridiculous,” the girl said. “I literally thought he was just taking a picture of his face mask ...”
Flyers of the tweet posted around Hodges Library, identifying three of the four students, said, “We refuse to tolerate discrimination of any kind.”
UT's Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a statement regarding the post Thursday.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Chapter of NAACP official response to blackface incident on our campus. pic.twitter.com/OtQGSr68D8— UTKnoxville NAACP (@UTKNAACP) February 28, 2019
“Despite ongoing efforts within our university to enhance educational opportunities consisting of culture competency for staff and students regarding diversity, there is clearly more work to be done and we are not on the right track,” the release said. “We cannot, and will not, stand by to watch these situations continuously occur on our campus.”
The chapter ended with a call to action, asking all faculty, students and staff to join them at the Office of Multicultural Student Life in the Frieson Black Cultural Center to voice concerns and discuss ways to take action.
“The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Chapter of NAACP will continue to contribute to the movement of unifying, empowering, and uplifting the black and marginalized communities, as well as holding those accountable for following to ensure a truly intrinsic academic experience.”
According to the release, the BIAS Education Response Team and the Office of the Dean of Students is investigating the incident to determine how to handle it.