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May 28, 2014 | by  | in Homepage News |
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ENSOC Apologises for Racist Video

The University of Canterbury’s ENSOC (Engineering Society) has apologised after being criticised for using blackface in a promotional video.

Last night, ENSOC published the video, a lip synch to 50 Cent’s song ‘Candy Shop’ titled ‘100 Cent’, on their Facebook page.

The video, which is two minutes long, shows a white man with his face painted black and wearing a gold chain, backwards cap and bandana. He is surrounded by other white men and one white woman wearing black hoodies and caps. The other participants in the video are lip-synching and dancing along to the song, mimicking dancing typical to rap videos.

There are several close-ups on the face of the man in blackface, including one where he licks his lips to reveal he is wearing grills. The white women in the video have their fingernails painted black.

The video was created as advertising for ENSOC’s shop now selling $1 lolly mixtures. In the Facebook post promoting the video, ENSOC said “because our Marketing rep is too busy pursuing a career in cougar hunting, we invited our good friend 100cent (almost twice as black as 50cent) to rock on down to the ENSOC shop and enjoy the goods.” [sic]

The video got around 1000 views before it was taken down amid criticism.

ENSOC has refused to speak to the media, but this morning issued an apology on its Facebook page, saying that the video was “intended to be a parody” but “unfortunately, we’ve had complaints that the video was racist/it propagated racism, which was never our intention.”

“We apologise for any offence taken – we were ignorant of the racial stereotypes associated with the make-up used.”

“As a show of good faith, the committee have decided to make a donation to Amnesty International from our personal accounts as we believe in equality for all individuals.”

ENSOC is the UCSA’s Engineering Faculty Club. It is the largest club at the University of Canterbury, with around 2500 members.

UCSA President, Sarah Platt, said that the video was being investigated, but downplayed accusations of racism.

“I think it’s really important to note it wasn’t intended negatively; a mistake has been made and ENSOC has realised that,” Platt said.

“At this stage, we’re investigating all the facts, and we’ll make a decision from there. It was, in their mind, a parody video.”

UC’s feminist society, FemSoc, has complained to campus officials about the “totally offensive and not okay” video.

“I don’t think you could at all classify it as satire; it just seems very thoughtless,” said Vice-President Sionainn Byrnes.

The comment thread on ENSOC’s apology has rapidly devolved into a debate about the racism of the video, with some students claiming that those criticising the video are being racist towards white men.

The University of Canterbury had no comment when contacted, and said all questions should be directed to the UCSA.

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  1. Sam says:

    The 50 cent impersonator is actually female.

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