First and foremost, we want to apologize for the amount of time it has taken for the Directors to respond to the campus in this public of a manner. After many discussions, we’ve decided that using the platform of our K email would be the most effective way in which to reach the majority of our campus community. Many of our peers are angry at our lack of formal and public apology regarding Frelon’s proposal of racist t-shirt usage and incorporation of twerking into the Senior Dance. Through this letter, we’d like to both respond to this anger while also thinking proactively about what’s coming next for the future of Frelon as a student organization.
In not formally and publicly saying: “We’re sorry” for what happened regarding those events, we hope to not have been perceived as denying our wrongdoing. As your peers, friends and students who aspire to be as conscientious about racial issues as possible, we hope that you can recognize our preexisting efforts, and acknowledge that, much like yourselves, we are still learning.
The acknowledgement that was published to Facebook was not intended to undermine the gravity of the issues at-hand, but rather, to acknowledge the mistake that we had made by using the image of Mr. Miyagi and by incorporating twerking into the Senior Dance. With that said, the lack of technical apology on that page and thereafter was intentional on our part. During the times that we had made the initial marketing decisions and had chosen to choreograph the twerking, we had no malicious intentions to be hurtful or insensitive. We refrained from formally apologizing because we did not feel that that would be the most sincere and genuine way to correct the mistake that was both unforeseen and unintentional. As to be conscious of our wording we thought that the common phrase of “I’m sorry” might be patronizing, and still are figuring out what the phrase means to us in certain dialogues. We thought that it might imply a position of authority or hierarchy to those who felt (and feel) offended—as if to say, “I’m sorry that you feel that way. But I simply cannot understand.” However, that does not mean that the image or choreography was not racist. As we reexamined our decisions in this process we became more aware of how the image and the choreography was both insensitive and racist. Therefore, we made the executive decision to not use the image or the choreography in our respective show.
We apologize if our campus community was disappointed in the decisions that we made to address these issues. However, we cannot change the actions that we previously took. We can only learn from our mistakes and apply the things we have learned to become a more critically aware and inclusive student organization. Racial consciousness is a process that—as students and people living in and out of our time at K—we’re all still learning.
We acknowledge that offenses have been made and we acknowledge that our decisions as Directors have contributed to many hurt feelings of our campus community. We hope that in moving forward we continue to have conversations regarding race and racism on our campus as it is manifested in the institution and its student organizations. We hope that everyone can recognize the action (and inaction) that has ensued since the final Frelon performance, and hopefully, that the positive learning experiences we’ve had since that time have been greater than the grievances committed. As we move forward in our director selection process we hope to apply some of the lessons that we have learned and to make productive changes within our organization and our performances.
We hope that if there are any unresolved questions, comments, concerns or suggestions for how Frelon can productively discuss and address issues of racism, please do not hesitate to address one of us. Also, if there a further desire to do so, we’d love to open up the campus to facilitate greater conversations about institutional racism, beyond the confinements of this short and concise letter.
Thanks for reading, and happy end-of-6th-week, Hornets.
The Frelon Directors:
Francesca DeAnda, Rachel Pieciak, Madeline Vermuelen, Caitlin Donnelly, and Jack Massion