University of Central Arkansas student expelled, fraternity suspended over blackface Halloween costume

CONWAY, Ark. — A University of Central Arkansas student was expelled from his fraternity after a photo of him surfaced on Instagram in blackface for his Halloween costume.

The photo was posted on a private Instagram account by a Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity member. The fraternity reportedly had a Halloween party Friday night where the photo was taken, according to the KARK. The post has since been deleted, but screenshots of it has been shared.

“Being black is not a costume,” Brenton Johnson told KARK. “I instantly was upset. Like, I got angry because it was a clear and blanket disrespect.”

By Saturday, UCA wrote on Twitter, “We are aware of the offensive image being circulated. We do not condone this type of behavior and it’s currently being investigated.”

The university’s president, Tom Courtway, released a statement calling the photo “offensive and repugnant.”:

“A short time ago we were made aware of a picture on social media showing what is purported to be a UCA student wearing blackface. This picture is highly offensive and repugnant, and this representation goes against all we, at UCA believe in and stand for.

This institution embraces all races, cultures and nationalities. We strive each day to be welcoming, inclusive and diverse, and will always continue to do so.

The matter will be investigated by the appropriate university offices, and we can assure the UCA family and all others that it will dealt with accordingly.”

The student was later expelled from the fraternity. He also issued an apology on his Instagram before he deleted his account.

“I apologize from the bottom of my heart and absolutely never intended this to happen the way that it did,” he said in the post. “I never ever would have done this if I would have known the domino effect that follow[ed].”

He said he has received death threats.

UCA announced the chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity at the school has been suspended on the campus.

Brenton Johnson told KARK that he hopes the incident is a good learning opportunity for some.

“You educate people, you let them know how it made you feel and hopefully they will take that into consideration,” Johnson said.