Students, painted black, wandered around in Lund.

Students, painted black, wandered around in Lund.

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@Kenneth Carlsson

The hazing activities are at full speed with games and dressing up. In the city, two students have been photographed in so-called blackface-makeup. Several upset people have called in and deemed the incident racist.

Last Saturday the Technology management student union arranged a party for its 40 new members. The students were requested to dress up in accordance with some themes that had been set beforehand for the party.

P3 Nyheter reports that three students who were using the theme of the Jamaican music genre of Reggae then chose to paint their faces black, a so called blackface-makeup. A kind of makeup that is controversial for its racist background.

“The students had applied the makeup themselves on their own accord, but at the party no one from the board reacted to it. It was an innocent masquerade party with the imitation of the theme as the only goal”, says Elin Wennerström, chairman of the union, and continues:

“I believe that the fact that no one reacted is because the colour of their faces was in accordance with the reggae outfits which in turn were in accordance with the overall theme of music at the party. I think that it was seen as an enhancement of the costume by the union. It is very unfortunate if anyone has misinterpreted it.”

Large uproar

It is just the interpretations of the painted black students that people don’t agree on. Two of the face painted students were caught on camera when they wandered up Södra Esplanaden. Since then the picture has been spread across social medias. Many upset people have contacted Lundagård regarding the picture, claiming the incident to be racist.

Kalle Wigren, who took the picture, had just gotten off the bus from Malmö when he saw the two students pass a pizzeria. He immediately reacted to their appearance.

“If you keep the debate about Hallands nation’s slave auction from two years ago in mind it is strange that something like this happens again. Back then it was said that it was an isolated case and that things like these have been worked on,” says Kalle Wigren.

The debate from two years ago that he speaks of is the case where a few party guests at Hallands nation painted themselves black and acted as slaves on an auction – a debate that cause great anger on a national level. But Elin Wennerström doesn’t see a connection to that incident.

“No, not when the only reason was to strengthen the connection to the reggae theme. So, no.”

Blames ignorance

Elin Wennerström doesn’t want to go into detail about how the painted black students themselves perceived the incident, but blames the situation on ignorance rather than racism.

“There was absolutely no intent to insult anyone. We simply have to sit down and have a board discussion about what has happened”, she says.

Text: Kenneth Carlsson

Translation: Rasmus Edlund

First published at Lundagard.se

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