Florida Frat Members' Blackface Stirs Controversy

A photo of two men wearing thick gold chains, baseball caps and sagging pants raises age-old questions.

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Two members of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity at the University of Florida who wore blackface to a party last week found themselves in the midst of controversy on campus and across the nation after the image was posted to Instagram, the Huffington Post reports.

The photo, taken at an off-campus party on Oct. 24, shows two men wearing thick gold chains, baseball caps and "pants that hang so low they show their boxer shorts," according to the Orlando Sentinel. 

The Independent Florida Alligator reports the photo was posted on the NAACP-UF chapter's Facebook page with the caption "the fact that this is seen as acceptable is where the problem lies.”

An intense debate followed, with more than 130 comments on the Facebook post. Opinions varied about whether the costumes were acceptable and whehter (sic) the UF-NAACP should even keep the image up. People also shared other photos found on the Internet of UF students dressed in blackface at previous events. 

Stevenson Chery, a senior at UF and former president of the school's Haitian student organization, told the Sentinel, "We are outraged about it. Students should know that this is wrong."

Beta Theta Pi president Ethan McMahon said the theme of the party where the blackface photo was taken was "rock stars and rappers." He acknowledged that two attendees wore blackface and said he was disappointed.

Given the state of racial politics in America, we can't say we're surprised by the students' actions. But shouldn't college students be a little more enlightened? What do you think? Should the students be suspended, or would it only fan the flames of racial hostility? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Read more at the Huffington Post.

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