American University’s race issues over the last two years have been brought to the media’s attention. In 2015, racist messages were being spewed on the popular social media campus app Yak. And just last year, bananas were thrown at black students. On Monday, it seems, racists were back to using bananas to convey their racist messages after bananas were found hanging from nooses on the Washington, D.C., campus.
According to the university, the bananas were marked with the letters “AKA,” the abbreviation for Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first black sorority, which was launched at Howard University in 1908.
Neil Kerwin, president of the university, issued a statement about the incident and said it seems to have happened because the first black woman and AKA member was sworn in as the Student Government president:
The crude and racially insensitive act of bigotry reported this morning is under investigation by AU Campus Police with assistance from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and other AU offices and senior officials. We strongly condemn what happened; will do all that we can to find those responsible; and ask that anyone who may know of those involved to please step forward and contact Public Safety at 202-885-2527 or the AUPD Tips Site.
We will alert the university community of the investigation’s findings and next steps and will respond as swiftly and strongly as possible.Racially charged acts of bigotry are done to instill fear and inflict pain in our community—especially at stressful times, such as at the end of the term.I regret this happened, apologize to everyone offended, and state emphatically that this incident does not reflect what American University truly is.
While this incident targeted AU’s chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and occurred after the first black woman and AKA member was sworn in as the Student Government president—our entire university community has been adversely affected by this cowardly, despicable act.
Kerwin said he plans to have a meeting Tuesday, May 2, to discuss the incident and the racial climate at the university. Similar meetings were held over the last two years when the previous incidents occurred. Doesn’t seem like people are learning anything at all.