Black students at American University (AU) have been targeted by a disturbing and racist display for the second time this school year—this time, on the first day after the student body elected its first black female president.
Photos of bananas hanging from black nooses on campus circulated on social media starting Monday. The bananas were scrawled with the words “AKA”—a reference to Alpha Kappa Alpha, a predominantly black sorority—and “Harambe,” in reference to the gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo last year. The nooses were found hanging from a bus stop, at a dining hall, and near an undergraduate dormitory, prompting university public safety officials to launch an investigation.
— PabloTexasRanger (@pablo_bandz27) May 1, 2017
Taylor Dumpson, a law and society junior and AU’s newly elected first black female president, released a statement Monday condemning the “disheartening” and “immensely frustrating” issue.
“This is not what I imagined my first letter to you all would be,” Dumpson wrote. “In my first message to the student body, I would have wanted to talk about accountability, transparency, accessibility, and inclusivity. Now more than ever, we need to make sure that members of our community feel welcomed and above all, safe on this campus.”
In September, similar targeted attacks occurred when white students reportedly threw rotting bananas at black students through dorm windows and left bananas on black students’ doorsteps.
In 2015, racist messages were also routinely posted to social media app Yik Yak, which allows users to post anonymous “status updates” based on their location. “It’s obviously racist, but I don’t like 99 percent of the black people I meet,” one user published. “At least I’m honest.”
Students organized a march Tuesday to protest the incident and to call on the school’s administration to respond to the repeated threats. Protestors reportedly requested withdrawal forms from the university registrar’s office and waved them during the march, according to a local NBC report.
H/T Huffington Post