It’s about time we realise King’s has a racism problem
A racist post on a King’s student’s Instagram leaves the community outraged.
In the wake of a global political revolution combined with a local hate speech scandal, serious questions have been flying around the King’s College community. Are you racist? Are you anti-racist? Is the issue so black and white?
A Master’s student at King’s has recently received a backlash following an Instagram story glorifying police brutality. The story post consisted of two young white boys reenacting the death of George Floyd, along with three laughing emojis, calling it the “George Floyd Challenge”.
A few days later an Undergraduate student was similarly accused of making racist content on Tiktok after she said she’d deliberately sat next to a black student to be put in the prospectus.
Students at King’s clearly have a racism problem and it needs to be addressed. Students have already started making petitions for the university to address institutionalized racism and for Guy’s campus to be renamed due to Thomas Guy’s links to slavery.
For those that are unaware, George Floyd was an African-American man who was strangled to death by police for allegedly using counterfeit money. It seems difficult to find humor in such a horrific scene. His death sparked outrage worldwide, leading to protests, riots, and an internet storm.
Although the death was tragic and undoubtedly undeserved, some have decided to see the apparent “funny” side of institutional racism by starting the #Georgefloydchallenge, which requires the participants to reenact the scene. One person lies on the ground, facing down, whilst another kneels on their neck, feigning to cut off the blood supply.
Following the mass outrage that he caused with this post, the student put the Instagram story down to a hack, an explanation that is dubious at best. Proof of hacking, however, would only dispel concern about the issue to a limited degree. It would bring this student out of the spotlight, but wouldn’t erase the fact that someone, somewhere posted this despicable image That is a truly horrible thought.
Understandably, the student took a step back from his social media accounts shortly after the online stir that his story caused, disappearing from Instagram, Twitter, and even LinkedIn. He sent an email saying that the whole situation was “a massive misunderstanding” and that he has proof that his Instagram account has “been hacked multiple times”. This proof is yet to surface, which could be crucial to the settlement of this situation.
On top of the Instagram story, some of the student’s other online comments have definitely raised some eyebrows, for example, calling a Muslim man “a terrorist and low-life peasant” as well as other words that cannot be repeated. In response to this alleged Islamophobia, the student said:
“I’m half Muslim so it doesn’t make sense that I would abuse my own community knowing the power of social media these days.”
Being “half Muslim” is an interesting concept here and it would appear that “knowing the power of social media these days” may as well be a replacement for “knowing how easy it is to get caught.” The situation is still under investigation and as for how things will pan out, only time will tell. It remains to be seen what will happen to this student.
The student body reacted to the situation immediately by encouraging King’s to show some sort of consequence for this hurtful impact of the student’s accounts. Quite conservatively, KCL tweeted:
“Thank you for raising this with us. We do not tolerate racism or any form of prejudice or discrimination leveled at anyone based on their skin colour, ethnicity, or religion. Such behaviour is subject to our misconduct process. We are looking into this serious matter.”
In terms of repercussions, they are yet to be seen. However, without a doubt, a boundary has been crossed. Considering the current social and political climate, as well as the new influx of diverse students due to join the King’s community in September, it is crucial to promote diversity and inclusivity, especially in the melting pot that is King’s College London.
In a statement about George Floyd’s death, the university state that they have “an obligation to condemn racism and have a zero-tolerance to any form of racist or discriminatory behaviour.” On the King’s website, they say that despite progress, “it’s clear King’s has further to go to address race inequality for many of our students and staff.”, and that they are “actively working to examine […] how racism is experienced as King’s” as well as how it is reported.
Racism is not always as clear and blindingly obvious as this Instagram post was, but ultimately, it could be argued that a community is only as inclusive as its least inclusive members, which is why education about race politics is so important.
All things are taken into account, the past few days have been quite eventful for the global black community, for King’s College London, and certainly, for a particular Master’s student.