AN INVESTIGATION has been launched after members of a university football team “blacked up” for a night out.
Stirling University ordered the probe after players from its football club held a night out on Thursday, themed on the African Cup of Nations currently ongoing in Equatorial Guinea.
About 30 players were seen wearing football kits with black-painted faces.
The men, all from Stirling University FC, were criticised after choosing the controversial facepaint for the party in the town.
A spokesman said the university had a “zero-tolerance approach to racism.”
Speaking to student newspaper the Tab, second-year student Conor Fitzpatrick said: “They are not only embarrassing us, the student body, in front of our peers and the local community but also on a national level.”
Fellow witness Jim MacIvor added: “I saw 30-40 blacked-up footballers having a drink.
“They were just socialising, normal stuff. I happened to be in the flat across the road and I saw them leave around 11:30pm to 11:45pm.
“They were being quite boisterous – they were quite drunk – and some of them were taking their tops off and stuff like that.”
The university was said to be aware of the incident and investigating.
An anti-racism campaigner from Show Racism the Red Card said: “The practice of blacking up was usually part of a show by white entertainers for white audiences which relied on mocking black people’s skin colour and culture.
“The practice is racist and should definitely be avoided in our more enlightened times.”
The university and students’ union issued a joint statement on the matter, which read: “The university and students’ union are aware of incidents involving a number of students on the night of Thursday,
“The university and the students’ union have a zero-tolerance approach to racism, and will respond robustly to any behaviour that does not meet with our values and expectations.
“We are disappointed that the actions of a few are tarnishing the reputation of the University of Stirling, and we wish to reassure students that a full investigation is under way and disciplinary action will be taken against any student found to have engaged in racist behaviour.”
Comedian Janey Godley said that she could not think of a single situation, comedic or otherwise, where it would be acceptable to wear “blackface”.
“To me, it stopped being socially acceptable to black up in 1973, when I didn’t have a fancy dress for Halloween and my dad put his hand up the chimney, rubbed it on my face and sent me out as a coal man. Even then, we debated whether or not this could be taken the wrong way.
“People persist with this sort of behaviour out of sheer ignorance. If you are a student at university and have what must be a basic standard of education, you should know that you should not be blacking up.
“It’s not cultural, and even if it was, it certainly is not those students’ culture.”
Up until the 1980s, the practice of blacking up was not seen to carry the same cultural taboo it now holds, and was still considered acceptable on mainstream television.
During the 1970s, programmes such as The Black and White Minstrel Show, the Second World War-based comedy It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and Spike Milligan’s Q Series featured characters wearing blackface, and as such are rarely repeated in today’s schedules.
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