Sunday, February 16, 2014

Must not show Obama kicking a door

On October 17, 2013, an email to the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) listserv was sent out including the phrase “Honestly midterms get out of here” and a link to a .GIF showing a clip from the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The clip contained footage from a Barack Obama press conference that had been digitally altered to show the president leave by aggressively kicking a door.

A complaint relating to this image was made under SSMU’s Equity Policy. According to the policy, SSMU equity officers are responsible for investigating complaints and making recommendations, which can include letters of apology or dismissal from a position within the SSMU. Per Section 11.5 of the policy, “Recommendations for resolution made by the Equity Officers shall be considered binding unless two-thirds of Legislative Council votes against them.”

Two weeks ago, SSMU’s VP Internal Brian Farnan sent out a message stating, in part, “The image in question was an extension of the cultural, historical and living legacy surrounding people of color – particularly young men – being portrayed as violent in contemporary culture and media. By using this particular image of President Obama, I unknowingly perpetuated this living legacy and subsequently allowed a medium of SSMU’s communication to become the site of a microaggression; for this, I am deeply sorry.”

This apology was the outcome of an investigation under the Equity Policy. According to the McGill Tribune, “The apology has received widespread attention, much of it critical.”


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

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