While it may seem like the world should be beyond this already, racism in the school environment and the media is still extremely relevant. It is mostly covered up or not spoken about because of the way it makes the guilty party appear. Recently, numerous examples of events and conflicts surfaced via news sources.
For example, Gucci, a well-known fashion company, is an extremely pricey Italian luxury brand that produces and distributes high fashion clothing items and leather goods. On Feb. 8, 2019, there was an article published by Madeline Holcombe on CNN’s website that was titled “Sweater Resembles Blackface”. Blackface is an racial theatrical makeup trend that was used by mostly non-black performers. This practice grew to become popular in the 19th century and heavily took part in the creation of racial stereotypes.
Gucci released a new clothing article labeled as a wool balaclava jumper. The piece was described as a “black turtleneck sweater that pull up over the bottom half of the face with a cut out and oversized red lips around the mouth,” said Holcombe.
Outrage stuck among all social media sites claiming their anger towards the luxury brand, questioning the reasoning behind releasing a top so controversial. Gucci then displayed online presence, taking immediateaction in putting out the fire by releasing
“a Twitter post… stating that they ‘deeply apologize for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper.’” The top was then removed from the website.
According to Holcombe, “this is not the first time a fashion brand has been accused of such imagery. Last year, luxury fashion house Prada said it withdrew products after some items displayed in Manhattan storefront were seen as depicting blackface imagery. The products, part of Prada Pradamlaia line, were pulled after some images surfaced of some merchandise depicting monkey-like figures with black faces and large red lips.”
However, it is not only major companies that have difficulty with their awareness.Looking at another incident of racial discrimination from the NYU Silver School of Social Work, on Feb. 15, 2019, an article written by Scott Jaschik was released titled “When a Student Says It’s ‘Easier’ Not to Have Black People in Class.”
As stated by Jaschik, “the incident has played out on social media as Shahem Mclaurin, a black student at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work, described his experience. He was in France and was going to have to miss class. He had obtained permission from the faculty member in advance to use FaceTime to be in class virtually. However when he emailed various students in the course, they didn’t respond, so he was unable to see or participate in the class. One student sent him an email that Mclaurin then shared on Twitter: The email said in part that the student ‘found it easier to lead the discussion without black presence in the room, since I do feel somewhat uncomfortable with the (perceived) threat that it possesses.’”
Following the incident, Dean Neil B. Guterman and two other associate deans from NYU’s Silver School of Social Work, released an open letter in response to the incident: “‘We recognize that this incident took place in a broader context of ongoing institutional racism at Silver… Notwithstanding efforts to actively address these issues, we clearly have significant work ahead.””
While these are serious issues that go on amongst companies, students and adults, the racial discrimination mindset does not just appear on its own. If acceptance and racial awareness is not taught at a young age, children will grow to be adults who are unaware and discriminatory toward others. The news team from Kiro 7 News, published an article on April 1, 2019 titled “Issaquah School District, teen in picture respond to racist photo,” reporting on a 17 year old high school female who asked her male peer to the girls-ask-guys dance.
The story developed after a photo of the pair surfaced in a Twitter post that the female released in displaying her date and her proposal that included a discriminatory phrase followed by the pick-up line. This young woman quickly followed the social media outrage with an Instagram post stating, “‘I want you to know that I am genuinely sorry for the hurt feelings, chaos and rage that my [dance] poster caused… it was wrong, it was hurtful, and it reflected me and who I am in a completely distorted way.’” said the teen. “That is not how I was raised or what my family believes in.” she said.
Regardless of how she and others in the stories expressed their regret and remorse, the apologies do not possess the ability to take away the severity of the situations and how they not only affected the life of the party at fault, but also the lives of others who witnessed such racism in this day and age.
Racism is not an accident nor is it something that is taken lightly in any situation. When someone takes the time to put something so highly controversial out into the world of media, outrage, chaos, and disappointment are the only things that will come out of it.
In light of all these real world examples, it is only right for everyone to think before they speak, act, and today’s world especially, before they post online content.