Two White Students in South Africa Suspended for Wearing Blackface They Claim Was 'Purpleface'

Illustration for article titled Two White Students in South Africa Suspended for Wearing Blackface They Claim Was Purpleface

Two white students at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University have been suspended for appearing in what looks like blackface in a photo. Now, one of them claims the face paint was actually a dark purple hue.


Poekie Briedenhann says she and another student were dressed like space aliens and that the face paint they’re wearing was purple, the Associated Press reports.

Easy mistake: Black is pretty close to purple. Avoiding a racist mix-up by skipping dark paint altogether would’ve been another cool option.


Here are unconfirmed photos of the pair that show them wearing foil antennas on their heads as part of their costumes.

This purported blackface follows a previous incident at the university in 2014, when two students wore blackface to dress like Serena and Venus Williams.

The AP reports:

The episode at Stellenbosch University comes amid heightened debate on social media about racism in South Africa, which became a multi-racial democracy after the end of white minority rule in 1994.

University spokesman Martin Viljoen said Monday that the university is aware of “new evidence” — a reference to the account about alien costumes — and that an investigation is ongoing.


Following the students’ suspension, the university held workshops and released a statement that reads in part: “Stellenbosch University condemns all forms of racism and discrimination and acknowledges the severe negative impact of the pain and trauma experienced by students, staff and members of the public.”

UDDATE: Here’s a photo that wasn’t posted in the original version of this story—of one of the women wearing what appears to be lighter purple paint.


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So it’s pretty obvious from the new evidence in the linked article (i.e the undarkened photos) that this was indeed an honest mistake. It seems like maybe the title of this article should be reworded. Unless you meant it to be clickbait...ohhhh.