author: alexa lawlor | staff writer
Why would you think that posting a picture like that would be okay in the first place?
By the year 2016, you would think that we, as a society, would have a little bit more sense. That is, sadly, a mile away from the truth. Some people still think it is totally okay to use racial slurs and then claim, “I didn’t mean it to be offensive!” whenever they are called out on it. Well, what did you expect? With the negative connotation that those words have had throughout history, they will probably never be able to have a positive connotation.
Just a few weeks ago, for example, Paige Shoemaker, a student from Kansas State University, posted a photo on Snapchat of her and a friend in cosmetic mud masks. Now what’s wrong with that, you say? Well, nothing, if she wouldn’t have captioned it: “Feels good to finally be a n****.” Using that caption, many people took the masks to be black face, and the picture quickly went viral, with all kinds of backlash against the girls in the picture.
Shoemaker quickly posted an apology on her Facebook page, stating that: “We clearly understand that what was said and done is completely disrespectful,” “We never intended for the picture to offend anyone,” “We had only meant for it to be taken in a funny way,” and “Ask anyone who knows us, we are the most accepting and least racist people.” So, was it an honest mistake? Possibly; however, why would you think that posting a picture like that would be okay in the first place?
Racism is still incredibly prevalent today, maybe even more so with the presence of social media. On social media sites, you have the ability to post whatever you want within seconds of thinking it. Most people won’t take the time to think about the different ways and different people that their posts could offend, and then they become upset when they have to deal with the consequences and the backlash. Gone are the days when only your grandparents had the audacity to make racist comments on the street (incredibly loudly), and then you had to quickly rush them away before the person they were insulting heard them. Nowadays, when everyone can hide behind a screen name, you can offend anyone you could ever possibly want; however, especially in Paige Shoemaker’s case, there are still serious consequences. Shoemaker is no longer part of the Kansas State University, and her former sorority has denounced her, stating that her actions do not reflect their values in any way.
I am incredibly white, so I in no way can speak for the people that are continuously hurt by racist comments every day, but I can say that I certainly do not understand how so many people still believe that it’s okay to say these things, especially when they mean them to be funny. Racism is not a joke. The number of people killed because of their race, and the fact that this number is always rising, should speak loud enough for that. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t.