Friday, March 8, 2019

College of Charleston students protest racist video with rally, march through campus

The video featured students making light of slavery during school-sponsored trip

Posted by Adam Manno on Fri, Mar 8, 2019 at 3:56 PM

click to enlarge ADAM MANNO
  • Adam Manno
Students at the College of Charleston gathered at the center of campus Friday afternoon in protest of a racist video that surfaced online this week.

The rally, held at Cistern Yard at noon, was promoted by the Charleston Activist Network and led by African-American student activists in response to a video that showed white male students mocking slavery.

The incident was filmed during a school-sponsored trip to the Francis Marion National Forest, said a spokesman for the College.

"Yes sir, we out here in the country about to visit my slave farm," someone says in the video.
Standing atop the Cistern, students held signs reading, "Just because you don't say it to our face doesn't mean it's not racist," "Black Lives Matter," and "This is America," also the name of a Childish Gambino song whose video alluded to the Mother Emanuel shooting.

click to enlarge ADAM MANNO
  • Adam Manno

"It wasn't anything new because we deal with different racial injustices on our campus all the time, every year" said Courtney Hicks, a communications and African-American studies major and the president of Collegiate Curls, a natural hair care club.

On Halloween for the past two years, the College president has issued statements after pictures showed students wearing racist or insensitive costumes.

In a letter to the campus community on Thursday afternoon, Interim President Stephen C. Osborne said the college's Division of Student Affairs is investigating this week's video and "taking appropriate action in accordance with the College’s Student Code of Conduct."

Hicks, who also works with CisternYard Media, the College's student-led media organization, says she learned about the video when a former faculty member called her to ask whether it was real.

"Expulsion," Hicks responded when asked what she'd like administration to do about the incident.

"I am tired," student Zaylee Butler told the crowd. "We are tired of having to stay up late nights when we should be studying for our midterms, having to congregate under these circumstances."

At one point, a student activist asked fellow black students to raise their hand if they see people like them while walking around campus on a daily basis. No hands went up.

Minority students made up less than 20 percent of the school's enrollment in the fall 2018 semester, according to the College.

The 45-minute rally culminated with various chants.

"I am bold. I am brown. I am beautiful. And I belong," students repeated.

A procession of students walked further into campus, stopping at Cougar Mall, where chants could be heard from Calhoun Street as the Charleston Wine + Food Festival was in full swing a block away.

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