Administrators of American University in Washington, DC, are investigating on a racist incident that took place on Monday as several bananas marked with offensive messages were found hanging from nooses inside the campus. Hanging bananas have racist messages like “Harambe bait”, referring to the gorilla that was shot and killed at Cincinnati Zoo last year, and “AKA free”. “AKA” is short for Alpha Kappa Sorority Inc., a black Greek organization where the student leader belongs to.
The bananas were found the same day Taylor Dumpson, a black female student took office as American University Student Government (AUSG) president. She is also is the first black female student government president at American University.
Dumpson released a statement about the incident saying, it was “disheartening and immensely frustrating that we are still dealing with this issue after recent conversations, dialogues, and town halls surrounding race relations on campus.”
Dumpson encouraged her fellow students to be united about the situated and to reflect on what the community value. Bigotry, hate, and racism cannot and will not be tolerated.
This is not what Dumpson imagined on her first letter to the student body. She would have wanted to talk about accountability, transparency, accessibility, and inclusivity but she need to make sure that members of their community should feel welcomed and above all, feel safe on the said university.
University President Neil Kerwin released a statement calling the incident a “crude and racially insensitive act of bigotry.”
Kerwin reassured students that the “American University remains committed to principles of diversity, inclusion, common courtesy, and human dignity.”
American University Public Safety Director Phillip Morse announced a reward of $1,000 for anyone who anyone who brought forth information about the incident, a result from a campus meeting on Tuesday.
Few students has already voiced out their frustration on social media. Some even warn prospective students about the treatment they may face if they decide to attend American University.
This was the second incident in this academic year black women were racially targeted at the American University. Ma’at Sargeant, a sophomore told Buzzfeed that on September 8, an unidentified group of people opened the door to her dorm and threw rotten banana at her. On the same night, student Neah Gray said, a banana was left outside her room and someone had drawn penises all over her whiteboard.