Posted on September 16, 2011

Investigation Demanded over Blackface at Montreal University Frosh Activity

National Post, September 15, 2011

The Universite de Montreal is investigating alleged racism on campus after a group of white students was filmed wearing blackface during a frosh activity on Wednesday.

Anthony Morgan, who filmed the incident, told the Montreal Gazette the activity was meant to raise awareness of activities on campus and that the students in blackface were encouraging people to join a track and field club. They can be seen waving Jamaican flags, chanting: “Smoke some weed! Yeah mon! Yeah mon!” in the footage Morgan posted on YouTube.

“It was never something I expected to see in Montreal, much less on a university campus,” Morgan told the Gazette. “Being black and of Jamaican descent myself it was just completely jarring. It was humiliating as though your race is somehow a costume for buffoonery, as though somehow I was invisible or less than a person. It was really tough to have to walk by this group.”

Morgan, a McGill law student, contacted the Center for Research Action on Race Relations, which will demand sanctions against the students involved in the incident.

“It’s not borne out of malice, it was probably just ignorance,” said Fo Niemi, executive director of the centre. “But ignorance is not a defence for this type of behaviour. The university needs to address this and adapt their code of conduct to prevent this sort of behaviour from happening again.”

Niemi and Morgan said they wished to raise awareness on campus of the harmful nature of racial stereotypes.