[Content warning: racism, racist images, blackface]
Just over a week ago, I came across a picture featuring members of Stirling Uni FC’s Men’s Football Teams, drinking in a Stirling Venue, in blackface. By the following day it was national news and in response, 4 of the 6 teams were suspended from footballing duties, pending investigation. We’ve been investigating for over a week now, so we thought we’d offer up this wee head start, for when the relevant authorities get round to it…
The Uni has an interest in have a quick sesh in the Uni Senate with minimal fuss. Maybe 6 months down the line, once the media interest fades, it can all be declared one-off high jinx lad bants and then we all get back to
making money providing what I’m sure is a world class standard of education, without too much damage to the “brand.”
Since the story broke, those occupying the more shadowy corners of the internet have been crowning themselves in all kinds of glory, including those purporting to be members of Stirling Uni FC. Violent threats were posted against member of staff at student paper, The Tab, who broke the story, via anonymous messaging app Yik Yak, with one user also claiming they intended to sue everyone who identified their behaviour as racist.
The mixture of violent and legalistic attempts to shut down discussion certainly seem to be doing the trick when it comes to keeping members of the Student Union quiet. We’ve been referred to a 4 line statement more times than we’d care to count. It’s nice to know we can rely on the student body to take a stand when it matters. We suspect this silence is not freely chosen, given how much stoodent politicians love mouthing off to all and sundry about parking/the management/late capitalist patriarchy when given half a chance. Attempts to ascertain exactly who is directing this robotic defence have as yet been fruitless.
It’s worth noting that the recent election hustings were cancelled with no explanation, even though everyone obviously knew why. The winning candidate for Student Union President, Andrew Kinnell, included in his manifesto some admirable and bold commitments to tackle lad culture, promote equality and “Work with International Societies to help better celebrate the diverse cultures present within the student population.” Last night, he was being chased around by campaigners, in an attempt to understand whether he stood by his promises of epic diversity and full communism. Kinnell was quick to rebuke any suggestion that he’s been told not to discuss the issue by anyone at the University, which is one of those moments where the excuse is somehow worse than the suggestion…It’s been a while since we last went to war with a member of the Scottish Socialist Party Executive Committee and suffice to say, he no longer holds that illustrious office.
If the new President-Elect wants to tackle lad culture, woop, there it is! Now’s your chance to speak up about why we need to “better celebrate” those diverse cultures, whose votes were being courted just a few days ago. We await the comrades call to arms on this.
Anyways, the current members of the Student Union are standing firmly by their “no comment” policy for the time being and we understand even the Politics Society has been warned off hosting any discussions on the matter. This should surely lead us to ask, who’s trying to cover up what? And point out, that’s not going to work. Nae joy.
Evidence obtained by A Thousand Flowers proves this is not an isolated incident and that members of Stirling Uni FC have been cutting about in and hanging around with people in blackface at various points over the last few years. All these photographs remain, at the time of publication, freely available and in the public domain. Available to all their fellow members of the Uni, the football team, the sports societies, the Students Union etc. etc.
There is just 1 rule of blackface – don’t do blackface. If there were to be a second rule, it would probably be something like “don’t post a picture of yourself doing blackface on your own Facebook page, tag yourself and everyone else in it, and then proceed to share it to public pages with thousands of followers before commenting on it yourself.” Sadly, the man once described on Stirling Uni FC’s Twitter as a “goal machine” didn’t follow either of these rules. Also tagged in the picture is a former member of the Rugby Team, as if to prove that blacking up is a cross-discipline event.
And who’s this then?? The below photo contains 11 people who appear to be footballers…but we have reason to believe they might not actually be Man Utd. We know the identities of the overwhelming majority and the only connection we’ve uncovered is that at least 7 of them can be confirmed as having played for Stirling Uni FC.
We’d be prepared to hazard a guess that the above picture is another recent example of a “Stirling Uni FC lads night out”, sanctioned or otherwise. The photo was posted in 2014. Further images featuring the team members suggest either that this night out may have occurred in November 2013 or that these same people regularly black up and cut about Stirling. We’re not even sure what’s most likely at this stage.
Fans of the “it’s fine coz there’s like, no negative racial stereotypes” angle could perhaps try explaining the next two pictures. Both were posted by different members of Stirling Uni FC, in 2014 and 2013 respectively.
If a bit of primary school level Facebook snooping can uncover this, we suspect there’s a lot the Uni would have an interest in not being available and in public domain, so it’s a shame their students and former students put it there, over and over again. We publish these pictures not to target individuals but to evidence that this goes far beyond just one incident on one night. That in no way negates the fact that everyone born after the 1920s knowns blackface is a roaster thing to do.
Surely any inquiry must look at how this kind of behaviour, considered by many as little more than racial incitement, was tolerated for so long in such plain sight. Student bodies and elected representatives must resist any threats from those with an interest in sweeping this under the carpet, whoever they may be. Attacks on the press (and yes, that includes those writing for a student paper) must also be rigorously investigated. It’s also not actually against the law to point out why blackface is considered racist. We’re not strangers to the odd writ at ATF but we can say that with some confidence.
[Far be it for me to chuck accusations around if we’re looking for some context as to why people are allowed to express an opinion that those who engage in blackface probably don’t do so with the intention of promoting an inclusive atmosphere, the week marks the 100th anniversary of the release of what’s widely considered to be the first film, the work of a group of “lads” (of broadly Scottish extraction) which featured blacking up. “Birth of a Nation” was first aired on February 8th 1915…in association with the Ku Klux Klan.]
Without a discussion as to the purpose and scope of any investigation and what the desired outcomes are, the University will be allowed to either minimise the extent of the issue, or just blame it all on a few people. They have basic responsibility as a publicly funded institution to make sure no-one could possibly be allowed to claim they weren’t aware this was thoroughly offensive and dangerous behaviour. They also have a responsibility to protect students challenging and refusing to tolerate behaviour which is at such clear odds with the stated ethos of the University.
This is not about just Stirling Uni FC, it’s not just about Stirling Uni. But the fact is, the ball is now firmly in their court. The University must now be forced to seize the initiative, to accept this isn’t a one night stand but a hoachingly embarrassing affair which appears reflective of a culture in the team and on campus and to take credible and active steps to change that culture, with the broadest possible engagement from the student population. It may well have been going on for years without a massive rammy but the rammy is here and it isn’t going away.
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