William Paterson University student Jasmine Barkley response to public backlash from racially charged videos
Over the weekend Barkley posted two videos to her Snapchat and Instagram
In the first video her friend from Penn State University is seen using racial slurs in an elevator
In the second video Barkley asks her Instagram followers if it is okay to say nigga in a song
Barkley wrote an apology claiming white people not being able to use the “N-word” was equal to segregation
It is a trend that seems to be happening more and more. White people have taken a strange comfort in using racial slurs on social media. However, the majority of these people are finding themselves on the receiving end of Internet justice.
Most recently, a William Paterson University student by the name of Jasmine Barkley caught backlash from all around the country after two racially charged social media videos were shared on Twitter.
The videos were posted to Barkley’s Snapchat and Instagram accounts. In the first video, Barkley records her friend Kaitlin Listro from Penn State University in an elevator using racial slurs on her Snapchat. As soon as the video begins, Listro is seen singing, “Nigga! Nigga, Nigga, Nigga! You’re a fat nigga suck my dick!” Listro is then seen walking off the elevator before the video ends.
In the second video, Barkley goes on Instagram to ask her followers if it is okay to say the word nigga in a song. “Is it appropriate for me to say nigga if it’s in a song and you’re singing the lyrics, or is it not appropriate for me to say nigga? Let me know,” Barkley says. In the background of the video, Barkley’s friend says, “What up my nigga? What up my nigga?”
In what can only be described as a stunning display of white privilege, Barkley decided to double down on her racial slurs in an apology letter where she states, “The black race has been fighting against segregation for a long time, yet the divide of who can use the n-word only creates more segregation.” Apparently, Barkley believes the unequal use of a racial slur is an injustice to her civil rights. Her full statement, where she also references a quote from Charlamagne Tha God, can be read below.
An Open Letter to My Friends, Peers, College Community, And All Others Who Would Like a Better Understanding of the Statements Made in My Video
I am not a racist. I believe in equality and respect among all. The videos has been misconstrued in many ways across media. I admit that the place and context of how I presented my question was insensitive. I am deeply sorry to those that have been offended from what was happening in the video. If a word is offensive to a particular race then it should not be presented in music. There have been multiple occasions on campus when I have heard similar music played that has repeatedly included the n-word and other vulgar terms in the lyrics. When an interracial groups sings along to lyrics including the n-word, people don’t call out those who are not black, racist for singing along. I posed a controversial question because I was upset that my friend was harassed for singing along to the lyrics of “Freaky Friday” by Lil Dicky featuring Chris Brown. I never attacked a specific person or group. I was simply questioning why one race has more rights to freedom of speech than another. Lenard McKelvey (Charlamagne Tha God) was posted on a Toutube channel speaking on this topic. In the video, he states until blacks stop using the word n***a “we can’t get mad at nobody else for using the word n***a”. He goes on to speak about how if people want to see change, they need to be the change they want to see. He believes it is hypocritical for a person to use the word and not expect others to use it as well. Another comment he makes is about how if Martin Luther King Junior or other historic black figures were to come back to life, they wouldn’t be shocked by white people using the n-word. There is no moral justification stating that I am not allowed to sing lyrics sung by a different race. The black race has been fighting against segregation for a long time, yet the divide of who can use the n-word only creates more segregation. I have been an active member of William Paterson community to have a voice on campus and because I am someone who puts effort towards making positive strides in equality. My hope is that people realize this was not a malicious act but just a response to feeling ridiculed and unequal pertaining to the issue.
I hope after sharing my thoughts this provides some clarification and insight into what type of person I am. I also hope that by opening ip this issue for discussion, racial groups can become more sensitive of one another’s feelings and develop a better understanding of the true meaning of freedom of speech.
The two videos went viral after they were tweeted out by Twitter user @seuntheactivist. The first video tweet has over 350,000 views. After going viral on Twitter, the two videos have also gone viral on Facebook.
Penn State University ended up tweeting a response to the videos directly to @seuntheactivist. The initial response was not what many expected, causing social media users to slightly turn their focus towards the college.
Penn State’s embrace of diversity & inclusion, and opposition to prejusice & hate, are clear. We condemn racist messages, as they are hateful and violate our institutional values. We cannot, however, impose sanctions for Constitutionally protected speech, no matter how offensive.
On Monday, Penn State University tweeted out a second response to the incident. The response was posted as an image with the captions, “Message from the University leaders about the use of a racial slur by a student on a personal social media account:”
The University shares the outrage and disgust expressed on social media and beyond regarding the use of a racial slur by a student on her personal social media account. The Office of Student Conduct is investigating.
The inclusion and safety of all of our students is paramount. It is deeply troubling that as a society, we today are still facing racism. We must uphold our values, and Penn State is increasingly focusing on how to address and educate our students on the impact of hateful messages and actions.
At the same time, William Paterson University released a response to the incident with the caption, “Statement from VP Cammarata re: social media incident.”
We have learned of videos on social media including one in which a William Paterson student, who is also a leader in our sorority community, makes abhorrent and racially charged statements at a non-University gathering. We are disgusted by this behavior which does not reflect our values or those we expect from our students. University staff are investigating the matter to determine what actions are appropriate.
On Tuesday, William Paterson University President Kathleen Waldron released the following response.
The past weekend, a William Paterson University student while off-campus in Pennsylvania posted a video on social media that has received wide circulation. The language of the student has been strongly condemned by many people in our community and has generated a larger discussion throughout our campus. Vice President for Student Development Miki Cammarata issued a statement on the video on Sunday April 22. As President of William Peterson University, I want to reiterate the Universiy’s earlier statement. I find the language that has been used abhorrent and racist. It is with deep regret that I see any student at our Univesity exhibiting such vulgar and racist behavior. This does not represent our values, our culture. or how we hope students will conduct themselves.
We immediately decided to review the incident and requested that the Office of Student Conduct do so. Following the review, the Office of Student Conduct, in consultation with Employment Equity and Diversity, concluded that based upon the evidence presented there has been no violation of the Student Code of Conduct in this specific incident. However, the student, who held leadership positions previously, is no longer affiliated with any student organization at the University. The Student Code of Conduct outlines behavioral standards students are expected to abide by. It is distributed to students annually and available on our website: https://www..wpunj.edu/student-conduct/student-handbook/the-student-code-of-conduct.html.
The Incident has prompted strong reactions in our community. On Friday, April 27 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Student Center, there will be a Town Hall Forum to discuss campus climate and how to fix our community is responding to this incident. The Forum will be moderated by Michelle Johnson Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Employment Equality and Diversity. We invite all members of our community to join Friday’s meeting as we come together to have an open discussion.
Barkley’s sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, released a statement in regards to the incident on their Facebook page.
“* UPDATE * Delta Phi Epsilon will not tolerate racism. The woman in the video is no longer a member of DPhiE. Our organization was founded by 5 Jewish women who were discriminated against. They stood up for social justice and we continue to stand for that today. We will be forming a task force on diversity and inclusion as a result of this incident.
“Delta Phi Epsilon International Headquarters has just become aware of an unfolding situation at William Paterson University. We are investigating the actions of one member and will take swift, decisive action to remove her or any member who does not uphold our values.” – Nicole Defeo, International Executive Director
Barkley also released a third apology video response on her Snapchat. In the video, the text reads, “IT WAS GENUINE QUESTION.” Barkley states in the video, with a voice changer and kitty heart nose, “I am so sorry for everyone that was offended by my Snapchats, but, ummm… Obviously from here on out, like, if you have a problem with what I have to say you should just not watch.”