As he mentioned, the group apologized at a town hall meeting that the Black Students’ Association held. One person from St. Michael’s College also took full responsibility and apologized. I have to ask: what are they apologizing about? Is it really that big of a deal?
I have to correct Anas on the issue of blackface. Blackface itself is not something racist and evil. That is like suggesting that ANY coloured paint is inherently racist. Does this mean that darkening your skin with spray tan to get a Brazilian tan is a sign of some inherent racial issues? It might be, but not necessarily.
Because it's not the product that is the problem, it is the intentionality behind it. As Anas himself says, those boys were simply trying to dress up as the film characters they loved. And what his article fails to mention is that one of the four boys was black and he played the role of the white actor in "Cool Runnings." So, why didn't he come under pressure?
So what if they knew the history of blackface? Why does that even matter? They were not using it in the same way that the actors of the early 20th century did. They didn't rumble around the room calling the white men "masters" nor did they amble about, implying that all black people are fools.
They were not perpetuating any racial stereotypes: they simply dressed up as individuals who happened to be black.
But why can't we be -dare I say- funny enough to tell the difference? Why did we not assume that it was flattery? "Cool Runnings" is a classic, after all.
My greatest fear is that we misuse the word "racist" so much that it becomes meaningless. Being discriminated against because of the colour of your skin is horrendous. However, trying to pretend that these colour variations don't exist is equally unhelpful.
Of course, we have to be aware of really discriminatory and prejudiced behavior. However, being so politically correct that we make people afraid of engaging with us doesn't help the cause of minorities in any way. It makes people afraid to talk to us, afraid to laugh with us, and afraid to understand us. And this only worsens segregation.
I say, we drop it. They were educated boys and they did it in good fun. It only belittles us for the next time we attempt to comment against "real" acts of racism. Like the boy who cried wolf, when we really mean it, nobody will care.