The “Jim Crow-esque” signs “White Only,” “Black Only” signs posted around the University of Buffalo turned out to be another example of a campus race hoax.
Amid general uproar about rampant “racism” on the campus after the signs appeared near water fountains and restrooms, Ashley Powell, a black graduate student, admitted Wednesday to hanging them as an art project. Powell told those gathered at a Black Student Union meeting Wednesday that the race hoax was just part of a project for an art class and was intended to see how people would respond. Though she said she regretted causing “extreme trauma,” she did not apologize for her actions.
“I apologize for the extreme trauma, fear, and actual hurt and pain these signs brought about,” Powell said in a statement. “I apologize if you were hurt, but I do not apologize for what I did. Once again, this is my art practice. My work directly involves black trauma and non-white suffering. I do not believe that there can be social healing without first coming to terms with and expressing our own pain, rage, and trauma.”
Students at the meeting were not pleased, as many demonstrated by walking out angrily.
“This was more than a black issue, more than a Black Student Union issue, this was a student issue,” Black Student Union president Micah Oliver said to ABC 7. “The student body should be offended.”
Powell’s race hoax is one among many examples of phony cases on campus that have undermined the cause of those seeking to address legitimate racial concerns.
In February 2013, Oberlin College made national news because somebody was posting racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic messages around campus. This included the posting of a Nazi flag, a flier degrading Martin Luther King, and someone dressed up as a Ku Klux Klan member nearby the Afrikan Heritage House. The campus had classes cancelled for a day as a result.
But like the University of Buffalo incident, the messages turned out to be a hoax put on by students who were Obama-supporting Democrats. They tried to justify their stunt by saying it was merely a way to “troll” the campus.
Another notable example of a campus race hoax occurred in May 2013, when a student at St. Peter’s Preparatory School who was running for student body president received four racist texts. It turns out, he had received the texts from… himself.
The College Fix has a list of numerous other campus race hoaxes, including a Grand Valley University dorm room whiteboard drawing of a hangman and racist slurs, Montclair State University students writing racial graffiti targeting themselves, and a supposed racial profiling and harassment of a black student at the University of Virginia.
Robert Shipley, senior vice president of FIRE, wrote in The Daily Caller in 2013 that these campus race hoaxes occur because students “know that they can make a political statement or at least get a major reaction out of their college campuses with very little relative effort.”
Another motive: a sympathetic and social justice-minded media. “There is ample reason to be skeptical of on-campus incidents of racism, but rarely does the press thoroughly investigate these incidents when they occur,” noted Noah Rothman. “As [conservative columnist Michelle] Malkin said, the hype and the reaction quotes generate faster, cheaper headlines. But by uncritically reporting these stories, the media creates an incentive structure for the next students who see the benefits of erecting a victimization fable around themselves.”
Image: Screenshot of WIVB News 4 report