WASHINGTON (ABC7) — Students at the George Washington University were outraged Thursday after a racist image went viral on social media.
A Snapchat photo shows two women holding a banana with a caption that reads: "I'm 1/16 black."
University Provost Forrest Maltzman released a statement saying "the image was disturbing, hurtful and not reflective of who I know we are as a community."
Read Maltzman's full statement below:
"There was an entirely inappropriate posting on social media last night. Whatever the circumstance, or true intention of those involved, the image was disturbing, hurtful and not reflective of who I know we are as a community. As a university, we have emphasized our commitment to inclusion and have made clear that “You are Welcome Here." We do this through our actions and our words. Images like the one posted on social media can make people question whether they are welcome at the university, and that is unacceptable to me. Unfortunately, we have heard and read about too many instances of racist language and imagery on college campuses. They reflect the need for an ongoing discourse about race. Universities are special places that thrive because of the diverse perspectives and background of those who study, teach, research and work on those campuses. Since the report, we have been in active dialogue with the national headquarters of Alpha Phi and students on campus who have been affected. We take this very seriously. I hope we utilize these occasions to engage in dialogue across our community. We must remember that words and symbols have tremendous consequences. And, when they are made without regard to how those who receive them react, we can cause harm and hinder the university’s ability to achieve the preeminence to which we all aspire."
The GW University Panhellenic Association also released the following a statement:
"This morning we were notified of a racially offensive photo posted by members of the GW Panhellenic Community. On behalf of the GW Panhellenic Community, we apologize for the hurt and anger caused by this photo. As an organization that seeks to promote connection and empowerment of all people, this photo runs directly counter to our values and cannot be tolerated. Regardless of the members’ intent, racist images and statements like this contribute to an oppressive culture that threatens the security and welfare of people of color throughout the United States. We, as a Greek community, must hold ourselves accountable for the racist culture that we permit to persist, and we must take action to address our complicity in systems of oppression. During our Greek Leadership Retreat in January, every Panhellenic chapter President committed to creating a long-term strategic plan for promoting diversity and inclusion within their chapter, and the Panhellenic Council committed to creating a plan for the overall Panhellenic Association. These plans, and the actions that will result from them, are of the utmost importance. We are committed to doing the work required to move our community forward. If you have further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email Elizabeth Jessup, Panhellenic President, at firstname.lastname@example.org."