ASU Discouraging Face Paint at Athletic Events Over Blackface Concerns

Arizona State University's athletics department issued a message to fans to "discourage" the use of face paint at school events.

This comes just days after some students started an uproar over the use of black face-paint by students at a recent football game in which students were encouraged to wear black.

See also: -ASU Fraternity Celebrates MLK Day with Party Mocking Black People -1989: The Phoenix Press: Race Riot? What Race Riot?

There's no particular ban that's been established, but a statement posted on the athletics department's website says, in part:

As an inclusive and forward-thinking university, it is important for us to foster an environment in which everyone feels safe and accepted. Therefore, we discourage the use of face paint at any event, whether the theme is black, maroon, gold or white, and ask our fans to show their Sun Devil Pride in other ways.

We look forward to working with all of Sun Devil Nation on continuing to show our support in ways that all of us can appreciate and embrace.

In an article published last week in the school paper, the State Press, the student president of ASU's Black and African Coalition Kyle Denman, said the black face-paint "doesn't show school spirit; it represents cultural insensitivity at the end of the day."

Local rabble-rousing Reverend Jarrett Maupin also got involved, sending an e-mail to school president Michael Crow later in the week, asking for a zero-tolerance policy on black face paint.

"I commend the ban on face paint and the silent endorsement of blackface, but it is just simply not enough," Maupin tells New Times. "We've been through a tumultuous year with that university, parcitularly this year, dealing with race."

Maupin pointed to an event earlier this year in which some ASU fraternity members hosted an "MLK Black Party," and pictures from the event showed people dressed and acting in a way to mock African-Americans.

However, that month, ASU permanently revoked recognition of the fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon, citing the racially insensitive party as the reason.

Maupin says he's looking for some sort of change from the university.

"I believe it is time for them to mandate credit hours and/or a course on racial sensitivity and cross-racial communications," he says.

For what it's worth, this isn't the first time that people have been riled up by the black face-paint at football games, as various blogs over the last few years have taken issue with it.

For example, here's Deadspin in 2011:

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX. Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley