A black college student this week acknowledged posting “White Only” and “Black Only” signs next to restrooms and water fountains on campus. It turned out to be a student art project that didn’t go over well.
“It brought up feelings of a past that our generation has never seen, which I think is why it was so shocking for us to see,” said Micah Oliver, president of the Black Student Union, according to local ABC affiliate Channel 27 News.
More than 100 students turned out for Wednesday night’s Black Student Union meeting at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where emotions were inflated when they discussed the signs.
“There was fear expressed, anger, disappointment – all of that,” Oliver told ABC-27.
Then, amid the discussion, Ashley Powell, a black fine arts graduate student, stood up and acknowledged that she was the one who had posted the signs, according to The Buffalo News, which reported:.
The Spectrum noted that many students at the meeting were outraged and walked out. Other students, the newspaper said, denounced the signs on social media as “racist” and “an act of terrorism.”
The Spectrum added that “the project was for a 400-level art class titled ‘Instillation: Urban Space.’ Powell said the goal of the signs and project was to see what people’s reactions would be to them.” The signs were installed at water fountains and bathrooms in Clemens Hall.
Student art project or not, students say Powell crossed the line on this one.
“I think a lot of people like artsy extreme stuff and use that sometimes as an excuse to get away with anything,” Mikhal Gonzalez, a UB freshman, told ABC-27. “I don’t think that’s right.”
Powell offered an apology — of sorts.
“I apologize for the extreme trauma, fear, and actual hurt and pain these signs brought about,” she said, according to the student newspaper The Spectrum.
“I apologize if you were hurt, but I do not apologize for what I did. Once again, this is my art practice. My work directly involves black trauma and non-white suffering. I do not believe that there can be social healing without first coming to terms with and expressing our own pain, rage, and trauma.”
Watch the news clip, via WKBW News 7:
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