Prairie View A&M University President George C. Wright is working to reassure students and faculty after a viral post of a white Hispanic student in blackface put the university in the national spotlight.
Wright announced that PVAMU soccer player Brooke Merino has returned home to her family in California, at least temporarily.
Merino sparked outrage among her teammates and across campus. Students said they weren’t only upset with the black tape on her face, but with the caption “When you just tryina fit in at your HBCU.”
At a forum to discuss the issue, Wright read an apologetic letter from Merino to the student body in which she said her post was a joke and she had no idea what the term blackface meant before her post went viral.
“I’m not condoning her actions, but none of you were there when the picture went viral, and she was shaking in fear and anxiety because she had realized what she’d done,” her teammate Braelah McGinnis said.
“She disrespected the community. She disrespected our team. And she disrespected Prairie View A&M University,” McGinnis said.
Wright said Merino’s family asked him to read the letter publicly at the forum.
“Being here, I have felt what it is like to be a minority, and I have felt uncomfortable,” she wrote. “I have felt out of place. But, I knew that was going to be part of this journey of going to an HBCU as a white Hispanic student,” she wrote.
“I will admit that I was ignorant in my post. I was stupid for posting it without thinking more clearly about the consequences. But I’m not racist.”
Wright said the challenge now is where the university goes from here.
“As a result of what’s happened, and of everyone saying these things, it might prevent something like this from happening again or a recurrence of something similar,” he said.
Any discipline is in the hands of the Student Code of Conduct Board. It is unknown when they will make a decision.