On Monday, a student hung bananas in nooses around campus at American University in Washington, D.C.
Racist messages were written on the bananas: "Harambe bait," which alludes to the gorilla that was killed at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2016, and "AKA Free," which references Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which is predominantly black, BuzzFeed News reports.
It's no coincidence a black woman and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha had just won the position of student body president the very same day.
The woman, Taylor Dumpson, has issued a statement on the incident:
"It is disheartening and immensely frustrating that we are still dealing with this issue after recent conversations, dialogues, and town halls surrounding race relations on campus. But this is exactly why we need to do more than just have conversations but move in a direction towards more tangible solutions to prevent incidents like these from occurring in the future.
As the first black woman AUSG president, I implore all of us to unite in solidarity with those impacted by this situation and we must remember that 'if there is no struggle, there is no progress' – Frederick Douglass. We must use this time to reflect on what we value as a community and we must show those in the community that bigotry, hate, and racism cannot and will not be tolerated."
American University president Neil Kerwin also published a statement detailing the investigation that's underway, and pointing out the racist nature of the offense:
"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 urges anyone with information about the hate crime to call Public Safety at 202-885-2527, or to fill out the university's anonymous tips site.
It's troubling and terrifying that these things are still happening within our education system, but hopefully, the negative press and resulting public awareness make catching the offender all the easier.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Flickr user Chepner