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Racism Is Back on Campus This Fall 

Racism Is Back on Campus This Fall 

tristan rettke

Using props such as blackface beauty masks and bananas, college students are taking their racism viral.  

With race at the top of the American consciousness, college students across the country are undoubtedly having hard discussions about the role of race in our society. But recent stories indicate that some of these young adults still have a lot to learn about how to treat their fellow students.

The most recent incident involved Tristan Rettke, a freshman at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City.

Rettke can be seen in the video below in overalls and a gorilla mask, attempting to pass out bananas and holding rope. He staged this stunt at a Black Lives Matter protest this week.

"I really wanted to break down and cry, but you can't do that, you have to be strong," a student told WCYB, a TV station in nearby Bristol, Va.

Rettke was charged with one count of civil rights intimidation, the station reports.

His attorney, Patrick Denton, issued a statement saying Rettke "deeply regrets the unfortunate events leading up to his arrest ... and understands the negative perception of his speech and actions." The statement went on to say Rettke "has the same free speech protections as those in 'Black Lives Matter' movement" and that "he did not intimidate or attempt to intimidate anyone during this incident."

In the past month, other racially charged campus incidents have come to national attention, two of which were at the University of North Dakota.

In the first incident, a group of students locked a young woman out of her dorm room, then posted a picture of themselves smiling and giving the peace sign with the message "Locked the Black Bitch Out," according to a report by KVLY, a TV station in Fargo.

The second incident, just days later, involved a Snapchat photo of a group of white students in what appear to be black beauty masks, looking a lot like blackface, with the caption "Black Lives Matter."

The universities have condemned the acts, but campus climates have reflected the tension across the nation in response to the increased visibility and awareness of police brutality and state violence against people of color.

Last year, incidents at several universities made headlines, like the protests at University of Missouri and Yale. And protests across college campuses are challenging administrations to address concerns of racism within their ranks.

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