A college barred an Afrobeat band from playing at the school after students complained that the band’s makeup doesn’t display enough ethnic diversity. As Shokazoba’s keyboardist Jason Moses put it, the band is apparently “too white.”
Shokazoba — the name of the band in question — must sound to some people like slang for “middle-aged white dudes only” because about 30 Hampshire College students came forward to complain about the group’s ethnic makeup. The situation prompted the school to cancel the band’s appearance at the college’s upcoming Hampshire Halloween.
As MassLive reports, “Moses said the firestorm started when someone posted an inflammatory comment online about Hampshire College hiring an all-white band to play Afrobeat music for the event.” Because if there’s one person in the world who deserves to be taken seriously, it’s an internet troll.
But the whole thing isn’t so black and white. First of all, as Moses points out, the band’s members aren’t actually all white, and it’s his opinion that race shouldn’t be an issue anyway.
Though the issue of diversity on college campuses is an important one, rather than initiating a dialogue about perceived racism, school administrators came up with another, much easier solution: reverse racism. Problem solved, right?
The school’s colorful response involved compensating the group, but cancelling the band’s gig, which obviously caused some resentment and ill will. Even if Shokazoba’s members were all white, it’s not as though the band songs are anti-Semitic war anthems. That kind of thing wouldn’t go so well with an Afrobeat groove.
The school should at least hire a replacement act. Maybe an all-female Trinidadian dubstep act or something?