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King's student union addresses racism after cancelling Wu-Tang Clan night

White kids singing racial slurs in hip-hop lyrics creates an unsafe, unwelcoming space, says university student.

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King’s student Julia-Simone Rutger. - KIERAN LEAVITT
  • KIERAN LEAVITT
  • King’s student Julia-Simone Rutger.

The University of King’s College Students’ Union is holding a public forum on racism after a popular campus bar event, Wu-Tang Clan Night, was cancelled due to concerns about white students singing along to racial slurs.

An October 23 Facebook post on the event page by black King’s student Julia-Simone Rutgers quickly garnered attention from Wardroom bar organizers and the event was cancelled, while a heated debate in the comments of her post and on the event page continues.

Rutgers wrote that a similar Kanye West event last year, populated by “white kids comfortably shouting Kanye’s racial slurs in the name of good fun and celebration,” left her feeling uneasy and unsafe.

“It is marginalizing when you allow words like the n-word to be propagated in a space that is predominantly dominated by white folks,” she says.

After the event was cancelled, criticism was expressed in the thread, with people venting their frustration with everything from political correctness and censorship, to what some called a missed opportunity for education on racism. Rutgers feels education was entirely the point of her original post.

“It makes people uncomfortable when you point out the fact that they are doing things that are racist.”

Mike McGuire, a part-time teacher at Mount Saint Vincent University, hip-hop activist and producer under the name Hermitofthewoods, agrees with Rutgers. If white students are saying they don’t want to be censored, but black students say that this event is very uncomfortable for them, then they should listen.

“It’s really silly for white students to say, ‘Well that’s bullshit and we should be able to do whatever we want and any objection to that is agenda-driven and counter to progress,’” he says.

McGuire, himself white, supports the decision to cancel the event that was taken by the King’s Students’ Union, which is in charge of The Wardroom.

“If you’re going to play music that has racially charged language in it at a predominantly white school...you’re going to have to think about those things,” he says.

Beyond the Wu-Tang night, Rutgers says King’s suffers from institutionalized racism.

“Racism happens in such subtle, casual ways in this school,” she says. KSU president Aidan McNally agrees. “We acknowledge that systemic racism exists on campus and that we need to be looking at the supports that are targeted specifically for racialized students and [see] if they’re lacking,” she says.

Instead of the regular playlists, which typically include hip-hop, last Monday night The Wardroom instead played instrumentals in order to illustrate what organizers called the “importance of language in music.”

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