Students chalk Plaza to protest blackface photo, CSU’s response

Ceci Taylor

Students chalked the Lory Student Center Plaza Sept. 18 to protest the blackface image that has circulated around campus since early last week and the University’s response to it.

chalk message reading CSU sides with racists
Messages written in chalk on the plaza in response to Colorado State University Administration’s actions about the blackface image Sep. 18, 2019. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

Colorado State University junior De’Janay Smith said she decided to organize the chalk event after CSU employees washed away chalk messages critical of CSU and its handling of the blackface photo incident.  

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“I thought it was really messed up that the student’s statements got erased in the first place,” Smith said. “They have a right to free speech as well, and for the school to wash it away just because of everything that’s going on, I just felt that they were trying to silence them and make it so their opinions didn’t matter.”

In response to chalk messages being washed off The Plaza during regular maintenance early Sept. 13, CSU addressed the incident in a Tweet. 

Smith said the new chalk messages would inform more students about the situation.

Smith said she felt writing new messages on The Plaza would be fitting, because CSU wouldn’t have an excuse to erase them this time.

chalk message reading no more blackface
Messages written in chalk on the plaza in response to Colorado State University Administration’s actions about the blackface image Sep. 18, 2019. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)
 

“I just thought it would be nice because there was a lot going on on campus today, and people deserve to know what’s going on,” Smith said.

Some phrases written on The Plaza included, “my blackness is not your silliness,” “blackface is a hate crime,” “stop ignoring our voices” and “ignorance is complicancy.”

“The message behind those was that it wasn’t fair for people’s opinions to be washed away just because the school wasn’t in compliance with it,” Smith said. “We’re just really putting the emphasis that we’re not going to sweep this under the rug and be quiet about it.”

chalk message reading silence is complicancy
Messages written in chalk on the plaza in response to Colorado State University Administration’s actions about the blackface image Sep. 18, 2019. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

Smith said the chalk messages were also aimed toward some of CSU President Joyce McConnell’s recent emails.

“A lot of the president’s emails just kind of contain information about free speech this and free speech that, but we can’t speak,” Smith said. “Social justice is included in those principles, but they weren’t taking that into account.”

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Smith said she chose to chalk The Plaza Sept. 18 in accordance with the Associated Students of CSU meeting regarding the blackface incident at 6:30 p.m. in the North Ballroom in the LSC.

chalk message reading who is CSU protecting
Messages written in chalk on the plaza in response to Colorado State University Administration’s actions about the blackface image Sep. 18, 2019. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

“I appreciate all the support that I got today, and I just hope that the school does what they need to do in terms of the situation,” Smith said.

Smith said in the future, she hopes there will be more consequences for such incidents of racial bias. 

“I think that consequences need to be put into place for all the students that were involved,” Smith said. “We need to implement more things surrounding diversity and inclusivity other than just what the president was saying about having different meetings and symposiums … and making it so that it’s immediate and not just something that needs to be worked out over time.”

Ceci Taylor can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @cecelia_twt.