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(Photo credit: screenshot from Lisa Stillman’s Facebook)

When will people learn that dressing in blackface is not a joke?

A white professor at Purdue University has not been fired, after posting a photo of herself and a friend in blackface.

Lisa Stillman, a professor in the biology department, posted the photo to her Facebook page in 2016. In the photo Stillman and a friend wore black makeup, wigs with bones in their hair and what looked like a pregnant belly.  As if posting the offensive photo wasn’t bad enough, she also made it her profile picture.

In the comments, the pair laughed and reminisced about how much “fun” they had in those days. Smith commented and said, “Haha! We would be sooooooo NOT politically correct these days!!” while Stillman replied, “Nobody knew who we were!” and added, “as long as we didn’t smile.”

A Purdue student reported the photo on November 10, 2017. Less than a month later, the student was told the investigation was “completed” and “appropriate action has been taken,” reports  NewsOne. “Instead of firing Lisa Stillman, the Purdue administration covered it up and told her to simply delete the photo,” the student said.

Purdue University sent the following statement after a call from NewsOne:

Purdue received an anonymous “hotline” complaint in November 2017 citing two grievances: one about the way an instructor had reprimanded students to enforce lab protocols, and another about a 2016 Facebook post of a 1974 photo showing the same instructor (then age 12) in a ‘blackface’ Halloween costume,” an email from Purdue News Service said. “The university promptly reviewed these complaints, concluding that the instructor had handled the lab incident in a wholly appropriate manner, and that her personal social media post of an old photo was not harassment under Purdue policy. In any event, what we can say firmly is that, at Purdue, we do not punish speech, particularly when off-campus speech is expressed by an employee speaking as a private citizen.

Who knew that posting a racist photo was protected under “freedom of speech?”

Ironically, the university has a section of it’s homepage dedicated to diversity. It states that they strive to “Increase and retain the number of historically underrepresented and diverse students, faculty and staff at Purdue” and “create and sustain a welcoming campus where all students can excel.” Black students only make up only 3% of the population, according to statistics. The facility is 81.3% white and 2.9% black.

Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident. Purdue, like many other white institutions, has a long history of racism. According to the FBI, the number of hate crimes reported by the university was the second highest for any university in the country in 2013, reports the Indianapolis Recorder.

A Change.org petition demands that Stillman be fired.

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