This email was sent to the student body from Student Affairs at Lehigh following a Blackface incident on Halloween.
Date: Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 2:12 PM
Subject: Black Face Incident
Dear Lehigh students:
Last night a student shared with me a disturbing photograph that has been
circulating on Facebook. In what appears to be a Halloween weekend event
in the back yard of an off campus house, students are dressed in various
costumes. Two white male students, in tennis clothing and wigs posing as
Venus and Serena Williams, blackened their faces and arms. I write to
assure you that we take this matter seriously and that we are following up
with the individuals involved.
I also want to remind everyone why this behavior is hurtful and
inappropriate. The practice of “blackface” emerged in America in the 19th
century as white performers portrayed black performers in a negative light,
thus perpetuating racist stereotypes of African-Americans. Regardless of
intentions, the distress this type of behavior causes is real for all of us
who strive for an inclusive, equitable campus climate. It is offensive,
demeaning and antithetical to the fundamental values of the Lehigh
community which affirm the dignity of all members and respect for one
This type of behavior elicits many reactions – among them anger, dismay,
confusion and frustration. If you would like to meet with me or one of my
colleagues to talk about the incident or its impact, please contact my
office and I will follow up with you directly.
[Student Affairs Staff Member]
Thank you, Lehigh University, for your quick response and your committment to creating and maintaining an ” inclusive, equitable campus climate”!
“What would upset me most is if you leave this university and the lesson you learned is to keep your head down and ignore it if it doesn’t affect you. Because if that’s the lesson you learned, that’s the kind of society you will inherit.”—S. Moglen