Another Racial Incident at U.S. University

The Federal Bureau of Investigations has launched a hate crime investigation at American University after bananas were found hanging in the style of nooses around the Washington, D.C. campus on May 1.

Several of the bananas were marked “AKA,” the same letters for the historically black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha.

The incident came just days after Taylor Dumpson, an AKA member, was sworn-in as the school’s first female African-American student government president.

University President Neil Kerwin condemned the incidents, saying they are not representative of the AU community.

“American University remains committed to principles of diversity, inclusion, common courtesy, and human dignity, and acts of bigotry only strengthen our resolve,” he said in a statement. “Anyone who does not feel similarly does not belong here.”

The university held a community town hall on May 4 to discuss the hate crime incident and address the administration’s response going forward.

Students then marched through campus following the town hall.

This is not the first time American University has been thrust into the spotlight over racist incidents. In late 2016, an African-American student had a rotten banana left at her door with an offensive image drawn on her erase board, reported by this VOA Student Union story.

Two African-American students were pelted with bananas on that same night on AU’s campus.

Recent years have seen an increase in abusive language, both written and verbal, directed at people of color, lesbians, gay men and other persecuted groups on US college and university campuses.

According to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League, there have been nearly 150 incidents of white supremacists leaving racists fliers and stickers on college campuses since the start of the academic year.

“White supremacists are mobilizing in hopes of translating their online activism to ‘real world’ action, and campuses – and young people – are prime targets,” according to the ADL.

“Extremists also undoubtedly see value in recruiting a new generation that can carry the movement for years to come.”

At Minnesota’s St. Olaf College, students recently held several days of demonstrations after racist notes targeting black students were placed on campus.

University officials say they are working to find those responsible.

This is not the first time American University has been thrust into the spotlight over racist incidents. In late 2016, an African-American student had a rotten banana left at her door with an offensive image drawn on her erase board, according to a previous VOA Student Union story.

Two African-American students were  pelted with bananas on that same night on AU’s campus.

“These racist, hateful messages have no place in our community. The safety of our students is paramount,” said Aw in the memorandum.

The most recent incident involving the bananas hanging from nooses is now being investigated by the FBI as a hate crime, according to CBS.

Have you experienced racism on your campus? VOA reported this story about racism last fall. Please leave a comment here, and visit us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.

Devon Sgubin