FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The female Colorado State University student posing in a picture wearing blackface says she regrets her decision. The picture, spreading on social media, shows four white CSU students wearing blackface.
“They’re just a bunch of kids having fun and not thinking,” said Les Kaplan, the father of CSU Freshman Leana Kaplan.
Les spoke to FOX31 and Channel 2 by phone on Thursday. He says incoming CSU students were given dark anti-blemish cream by a campus organization. Leana and her friends applied the cream in a dormitory and then snapped a picture, according to Les.
“These are not racist kids,” Les said.
After the picture was snapped, text appeared reading “Wakanda forevaa”– a reference to the movie Black Panther.
CSU says, while the post runs counter to its principles of community, administrators cannot punish the students due to their First Amendment rights.
“I don’t consider that free speech in any way,” said African American CSU student Myles Harrison. “That’s a form of hate speech.”
CSU says it plans to hold events focusing on campus learning, healing and reconciliation. Details on those events haven’t been released. For two days in a row, CSU officials have refused to go on camera to be interviewed about the controversy.
Les says, for his daughter’s safety, she is currently not living in the dorms.
“My daughter is devastated,” Les explained. “She’s getting death threats. She’s getting called all kinds of obscene names.”
Some say the public response to the picture is– in itself– punishment. FOX31 and Channel 2 have been unsuccessful in reaching the others in the picture.
Les Kaplan released the following statement from his daughter, attributed to Leana Kaplan:
“Life lessons may not come from the best situations. My mistakes have hurt others and I deeply regret the pain that my ignorance has caused. The picture was taken after we were experimenting with cosmetic facial masks. I understand how awful this photo looks. The history of blackface is real and cannot be denied. I am sorry. I hope this incident can be used as an opportunity for dialogue and learning.”
To read CSU’s full response, visit the university’s website.