The University of Pittsburgh. The University of New Hampshire. Oklahoma State University. Kansas State University.

And the University of Michigan.

Predominantly white institutions all over the country have repeatedly failed to fulfil their due diligence and protect their students of color from anti-Blackness and racist acts that occur on their campus.

And just this weekend, a picture of a white girl named Lauren Fokken and her non-Black-person-of-color-yet-complicit friend in blackface with the caption “#blacklivesmatter.”

This is not a joke.

Your picture, Lauren Fokken, is exactly why we need a Black Lives Matter movement.

You believe your pompous, degrading picture was funny.

You think that you can put on a black-colored face mask and undercut an organization and movement that has organized to expose and eventually ameliorate the unfair treatment of Black people by police. This organization recognizes the incarceration of Black folks at astronomically high levels compared to their white counterparts. This organization is expansive and affirms the lives of Black queer and transgender folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. Black Lives Matter works to center the narratives of those who have been repeatedly marginalized within Black liberation movements. Black Lives Matter repeatedly affirms the humanity, contributions to society and resilience of Black people in the face of deadly oppression.

And so, Lauren Fokken, and mysterious non-Black oppressive person: Making a mockery of Black people’s fight for survival in an increasingly racist and white supremacist nation is not funny.

It’s racist.

Now we could brainstorm a few solutions to this problem: Stop the watering down of the race and ethnicity requirement so that you can take almost any class and have it count for race and ethnicity. Put cameras in residence halls so that ignorant little white kids don’t keep writing “N*****” on the back of Black kids’ doors.

These are proactive steps in the right direction.

But truly, a complete change of the University campus culture needs to take place. 

This campus needs to start encouraging cultural competency at every corner and classroom.

Maybe if Becky had paid a bit more attention in that watered-down race and ethnicity class she took, she wouldn’t have harmed an entire community and perpetuated racist minstrel-like ideology and golliwog vibes.

But in the meantime, Lauren and your non-Black POC friend:

Stop using Black people as the butt of your jokes. The minstrelsy, tokenization and caricatures must stop.

I do, however, want to note how ironic this picture is.

Here, a white-presenting woman and an Asian-presenting man are trying to make their skin smoother and happen to make a reference to Black people in the process.

In the words of abolitionist John Swett Rock:

“If old mother nature had held out as well as she commenced, we should, probably, have had fewer varieties in the races. When I contrast the fine tough muscular system, the beautiful, rich color, the full broad features, and the gracefully frizzled hair of the negro, with the delicate physical organization, wan color, sharp features and lank hair of Caucasian, I am inclined to believe that when the white man was created, nature was pretty well exhausted — but determined to keep up appearances, she pinched up his features, and did the best she could under the circumstances.”

Keep doing your face masks, boo.

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