Editor’s Note: This is an interview with the student who posted both Snapchat posts that referenced blackface. The Lamron granted her request for her name to be withheld due to her fears of how people would use that information. Questions have been condensed for simplicity and answers have been edited for clarity. Please read this article, which discusses the broader response to the posts.
What do you think of the reactions to your Snapchat?
“I think its valid. I think an act like this in 2019, in the political climate that we are in, should be called out. I think it should be treated like this. If we are ever going to make anything like the racist comments that we made [be responded to] with an absolute zero tolerance policy, we need to take steps like these to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I stand with everyone who is mad at me—I’m mad at me. I support people who are reacting the way they are because… this is how the event should be treated. This is how an act like that right now should be treated.”
Where have you been thinking since the Snapchat and since the response from people throughout the college community?
“I haven’t been sleeping, I haven’t been eating…but this isn’t about me, that’s the thing. And I don’t want to make it about me. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m paying for my mistake and that’s something that has to happen. This isn’t a matter of how I’m doing right now, this is a matter of how the campus is doing—do people feel safe? The police came to my door, telling me that people didn’t safe and that just kills me.”
If you could say something to the people who are upset with what you did en masse, what would you say?
“You are valid, you have every right to be mad…This was never an act of malice, I never meant any harm by it. It was pure ignorance and white privilege. This was a mistake of white privilege with my lack of even thinking of the possibility that this was bad. I didn’t think about how it would affect other people. Everyone who’s mad at me has every right to be.”
What would you say to people who feel that you should be expelled or otherwise excused for a semester?
“Of course I don’t want to be excused or expelled, I love it here. I know people don’t want to hear this, but it was a bad joke that wasn’t even funny. I don’t want to be expelled… On the grounds that it was a joke and that I acknowledge it was a stupid and [insensitive] joke and I meant absolutely nothing by it, I don’t think I should be expelled. But I understand that there are people who do.”
Could you talk about the conversations you’ve had with the college so far?
“I talked with [Chief Diversity Officer] robbie routenberg and they kind of helped me get to a better place mentally. I’ve had a lot of interactions with people who don’t like me at this point and I’m getting kind of getting good at it…I’ve had a lot of conservations with people who don’t like me and I’m learning more about the impact that I had on people, which I was ignorant to. The fact that I haven’t slept and haven’t eaten isn’t helping my ability to put words together… The [college] has stayed impartial. They don’t want to be on my side and they, at least talking to me, don’t want to be on others’ side either. They just strictly want to find how to fix this. I have been extremely apologetic because I’ve realized how this has made [people] feel. It’s more a matter of what’s done is done, so let’s pick up the pieces… The night it happened, I was studying in my room when the police showed up at my door. The ignorance part is that I didn’t even register that [the Snaps] was why. As soon as I checked my phone, it was blowing up. I hadn’t checked it since I posted. Fifteen people had tried to add me on Snapchat, my phone was blowing up with people asking if I was seeing this…All my friends told me I shouldn’t do this interview because they thought [The Lamron] was going to twist my words.”
What made you want to do this interview despite concerns?
“The feelings that I have would be very hard to twist. It’s not like I stand by those actions or would accidentally say that I stand by those actions because I don’t. That’s why I felt that this was the only way to make a difference to this situation right now… I don’t think me talking to [The Lamron] would do any harm. I know everybody’s mad at me and they have every right to be, it’s just crazy. It’s crazy how quick these things happen. Do you have any other questions?”
Could you please explain why you asked to have your name withheld?
“I don’t want this to reflect poorly on my friends and my family. My family are directly linked to that name and my friends have posted pictures with me in them. I don’t want any more people being affected negatively than [they] already have. I can’t afford to have that happen.”
What was your thought process as you posted this pair of Snapchats?
“Honestly there was none.I took the picture. I realized that the face mask made it look like I was wearing blackface. I thought there would be a way for me to acknowledge that in a funny way. That backfired so harsh and so fast and it should have—that was insensitive and I didn’t realize. Even being here right now makes me so uncomfortable, being outside my dorm, even being in my dorm to be honest…That was just my thought process, that I posted it and didn’t think about it, which is just another example of me being ignorant and privileged, that I didn’t immediately see a problem with it. Of course I regret it, but at this point I’m just trying to pick up the pieces.”
Do you have any final thoughts?
“Whenever I talk to a person, I’m just like, “where do I start?” Final thoughts: There’s no way to justify what I posted and I don’t plan on justifying it or standing by anything I posted. It was an act of ignorance. I completely acknowledge all my faults and I hope that I can mend things with people who I affected. This is not who I am and I don’t want to make this about me at all. This is not reflective of me, this was a moment of stupidity.”
Maddie also provided a full apology to The Lamron that she asked we print.
The insensitive joke that I made monday night was unacceptable. This has impacted so many people's lives and made them feel unsafe at Geneseo; I am solely responsible. I have no intention of justifying the post, I do not stand by it, and I don’t by any means believe that it was appropriate. To all those impacted by the posts: i'm deeply and truly sorry. I will never know what it is like to walk in your shoes, and I can’t even begin to imagine the impact of my actions on your daily life.
I don’t expect anyone to accept this apology, everyone affected by my actions has every right to be mad at me. I want to make it clear that my posts came from no place of malice. I had always considered myself to be an ally to people of color, and that is why I am taking the process of correcting my mistakes so seriously. This was a moment of ignorance and lack of foresight created by white privilege and I acknowledge that it was senseless. I took the picture, realized the face mask looked like blackface, made an immature joke about it, and posted it in a split second. I am not going to give excuses because there is no excuse for my actions. Only ignorance. I did not consider the implications of my stupidity and certainly did not intend for this to happen. I also realize what’s done is done. I can not go back in time. What I am doing is acknowledging my privilege and ignorance and learning from it. The way the Geneseo community reacted was the way every community should react. Acts like this should not be tolerated, especially in 2019 in this current political climate. I am more than willing to find a solution to this problem and work with the people I have affected to make them feel safe in the Geneseo community.