ACLU: College cancelled concert because band members were 'not black enough'

Campus Reform Reporter

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  • The decision to cancel was based on the band's 'insufficient representation of people of color' according to the ACLU
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    Administrators at Hampshire College (Hampshire) cancelled a Halloween concert last month because the lead singer of the band scheduled to perform was "not black enough," the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) alleged in a letter to the school's president.

    "Hampshire’s justification for the cancellation and censorship has morphed over the past two weeks," wrote the ACLU in the letter  to Jonathan Lash, the school's president. "The genesis of the decision, as you know rested on the accusation that this afro-funk band had insufficient representation of people of color." 

    The band, which was to perform at Hampshire, located in Amherst, MA, is called "Shokazoba," and specializes in Afrobeat music style, according to MassLive, a local online publication which recently obtained the ACLU's letter. 

    The school did pay Shokazoba, which has one African-American band member, despite the fact they were not allowed to perform. 

    ACLU official William Newman slammed the school's decision to cancel the event in the Nov. 15, letter, saying the decision was clearly race-based.

    “Comments posted on the event Facebook page, maintained and monitored by the college, stated that the African-American lead singer was not black enough," he wrote. 

    In the letter, Newman also called on Hampshire officials to apologize for the error, and he offered to consult with college officials on the matter.

    Newman told MassLive he is disappointed that the school has not yet responded to the letter. 

    Elaine Thomas, Hampshire director of communications, told Campus Reform by email on Friday that the school has a different understanding of the situation.

    "At issue here are very different understandings of what occurred by the band and by the students who organized the event. Our dean of students, who is the individual working on this, has reached out to the band and asked to meet with them," she said.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @TimPDion







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