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Mace & Crown | April 26, 2017

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Campus Community Outraged by Racist Rap Video

Campus Community Outraged by Racist Rap Video

Morgan Engelhardt
News Editor

[Updated 1:28 p.m. ET Feb. 25, 2017]

An explicit YouTube video went viral on Feb. 21, showing an individual wearing an Old Dominion sweatshirt rapping racist, violent lyrics while brandishing a weapon. The video, titled “White Gal – White Power,” has since been removed from the site for violating their terms and conditions. After someone shared the video over Twitter, the view count hit more than 3,500 and outraged many within the campus community.

The controversial rap video also shows the individual in a Donald Trump mask using racial slurs and encouraging the killing of all black people, all while holding the gun to the camera. The individual is later seen putting a cigarette out on a napkin that had “Black Lives Matter” written on it.

Social media, especially Twitter, soon blew up afterwards, attempting to find the identity of the person behind the mask.

“As an alumni of this university, if this student isn’t found and removed I will not donate a penny to this place,” one person said in a tweet.

Organizations such as the College Republicans quickly responded to the video on social media, saying they “believe that everyone on and off campus should be able to live in a safe and inclusive environment. We would like to clarify that although the individual in the video was wearing [ODU] clothes and a mask that depict President Trump, we as College Republicans do not hold these views and would not condone these actions.”

The ODU Democrats soon shared the College Republican’s post with the comment “we wholeheartedly agree.” They also held a small discussion during their weekly meeting to talk about the video.

University President John R. Broderick and SGA President Rachael Edmonds sent a joint letter via email out to the campus community shortly after the video went viral, stating the following:

“This morning, the University community learned of an extremely offensive video circulating online that features a person wearing an Old Dominion University branded shirt. This is an outrageous act of hate and intolerance and we are sickened by this vile video. There is no place on this campus for hate and divisiveness.

“These types of incidents stand as a stark reminder that we must continue our resolve to educate on the importance of civility and inclusion. It is what we as a Monarch Nation stand for and represent every day.

“We understand that hateful words and messages cause harm, and our beloved university community stands together to support each other. Our Counseling Center is open to anyone who needs support and the Office of Intercultural Relations staff are available to all who would like to engage in discussion and in support of one another.

“We are a caring and inclusive university community, and united, we strongly denounce the video and stand against hate. Our resolve to build a unified campus community is stronger than ever.”

Campus police also released a statement the following day, stating that “Old Dominion University Police are diligently investigating this matter. Because it is an active investigation, no further information is available at this time.”

The campus chapter of the NAACP held a forum the same day the video went viral to discuss the video and give students an outlet to talk about how the video made them feel. Attendees sat in a circle while they were given a safe space to talk about their reactions. No cameras were allowed during the event.

Moderators brought up questions for students to debate and discuss about during the forum. Some of the questions included “why do you feel, if you feel this way, that other races should not be able to say the ‘n’ word?” and “were you surprised that this video was released?”

“For me it wasn’t such a surprise that we do have this going on,” one student said during the discussion.

Attendees also discussed the erupting “Twitter war” happening, with some people on the social media site saying that the individual in the video should not be prosecuted because of freedom of speech, while others seemed angry that people were not more concerned with the video. Arguments about whether the university is a “Primarily White School” or a “Historical Black Institution” were also fought about on Twitter and spoken about in the forum.

While some students expressed their shock to the content of the video, many claimed that they were not surprised due to the current political climate. Some students also claimed that the person in the video was identified, but it has not yet been confirmed by local law enforcement.

“Most of the African-Americans in the room probably can speak and say this, this is part of the theory of post traumatic slave disorder [PTSD],” one student said, when it was brought up that many black students were traumatized by the intense racism in the video.

Many students also addressed that they had not received Broderick and Edmond’s letter in their student emails and didn’t even know President Broderick had sent out a statement about the video until people began posting it on social media. There has yet to be an answer about this from the university.

One student claimed that instead of an email, Broderick should have attended to discuss with students what happened and what the university is doing about it.

“We’re too comfortable talking behind a screen. You can tell me about something all day, every day, but I cannot detect the true emotion behind it. I want to know that my president cares about me,” the student said.

However, Ellen Neufeldt was in attendance and assured students that the president would have been on campus to speak to students, but he was en route to California at the time.

During the forum, a few students pointed out that there were very few white students that had attended. Many students expressed that the university needed to come together and that having the support of their white peers is what they need to help fight the racism that still exists.

“We need to be able to congregate with people as well. We can sit here and say we’re going to do this and this, but if no one is here to support us then as a minority, it’s a lot harder to get things done,” one student said.

University administrators and campus police are taking this matter seriously. In their on-going investigation, if you have any information or know the identity of the person in the video, please call the ODU Police Department at 757-683-4000.

“This is not something we tolerate. Hate is not something our campus condones, tolerates, or endorses,” Edmonds said

[Editor’s note: On Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2:46 p.m., the ODU PAO released the following folo statement to Mace & Crown in an email regarding the controversial, racist rap video posted on YouTube – “Old Dominion University Police are diligently investigating this matter. Because it is an active investigation, no further information is available at this time.” – Mace & Crown will keep you updated as soon as information on the matter becomes available.]