Last month, American University elected its first black female Student Government president — junior Taylor Dumpson. Her victory received little attention at first; this outcome is hardly novel in 2017.
But then came a ghastly response: Someone, not yet identified, hung bananas from noose-shaped strings around the Ward 3 campus. In case the insinuation wasn’t clear enough, the bananas were marked with the letters “AKA,” representing the majority-black Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. The case received national attention and is being investigated as a hate crime. The university’s student body rightly demanded action.
A disgusting display of racism at a prominent D.C. institution threatens to tarnish the progressive, inclusive attitude that many city officials and residents have worked hard to cultivate. Accordingly, we’re glad that American University has addressed the issue. President Neil Kerwin blasted the “crude and racially insensitive act of bigotry,” and the school is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. University officials have also responded to student body demands for meetings and for support to students of color, and provided extra security to Ms. Dumpson after she was targeted online by white supremacist groups.
We hope these actions can help ease the pain caused within the university and beyond, and that a suspect can be identified and brought to justice.