For a season that's supposed to be the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year," we sure have to contend with some pretty nasty, bigoted behavior from our fellow humans during the holidays, huh? This week alone, we heard about the "War on Hanukkah" sign, and now comes news out of Indiana University in Bloomington about a ridiculously offensive, racially charged Christmas-themed residence hall display.
The billboard, placed near the entrance of the Foster Quad residence hall, was posted by staff and students from IU’s CommUNITY Education Program, which hoped the board would provoke discussion about racial stereotyping. But by posing questions like, "Can Santa Claus be a black man?" it was really more shocking and appalling than anything.
The board also asked residents, "If Santa is a black man, would you let him come down your chimney?" and "If Santa Claus is a black man, wouldn't he only visit the ghetto?" alongside notepaper for students to respond, with hopes that the activity would prompt productive conversation. Face. Palm.
While it's important to point out to students that stereotyping exists and is wrong, this disturbing display was far from the right way to teach that lesson. I can't believe anyone in their right mind OK'ed it in the first place.
It's a relief to hear that the billboard has since been taken down. From the university's official Twitter account:
The sign is being removed. The intention was to educate, not offend, but we recognize the problem and apologize to everyone effected. (2/3)— Indiana University (@IUBloomington) December 3, 2013
IU Spokesperson Mark Land also acknowledged that while good intentions fostered the project’s creation, its execution missed the mark. Uh, I'll say! Thankfully, the incident was followed up with "a discussion about diversity and the bulletin board controversy," which is probably what they should've done before there was any such controversy to discuss ... but hey, at least we can hope everyone learned from the egregious mistake!
What's your reaction to this display?