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A college in Massachusetts is being placed under the national microscope after canceling on a band that was scheduled to play at their Halloween party, because they were “too white.” Hampshire College, a small liberal arts school in Amherst, released the following statement after reportedly giving the super caucasian Afrobeat band “Shokazoba” the boot.
The student organizers of Hampshire Halloween contracted with five bands to play as part of the entertainment line-up on Friday night. On an online event site, some members of our student community questioned the selection of one band, asking whether it was a predominantly white Afrobeat band and expressing concerns about cultural appropriation and the need to respect marginalized cultures. The students tried to be clear that they meant no disrespect to the members of the band in question, but wished to raise larger questions and have a deeper conversation within our own community.
The band, who was reportedly pissed about the abrupt cancelation, blames the thirty students who went to the event organizers to complain. They released the following statement on Facebook, essentially calling the students racist.
Does anyone want to know what happened to our set at Hampshire Halloween tonight? Ask the Hampshire College HYPE Committee and Dean Pam Tinto. 30 students complained that we were too white to play Afrobeat, so we were canceled. Racist much? Please protest on our behalf and spread the word. Today, we were discriminated against by people who had never even met us or heard one note of our music. Everybody loses tonight, but next week… 10/31 in Burlington VT for real Halloween playing for real people with real appreciation. Now that’s what I’m talking about
The “HYPE Committee” then called a meeting with the band to ease some of the tensions after the story went public. It didn’t go well.
The band’s keyboard player, Jason Moses, told The Republican he and his bandmates met with the event’s organizers, who partly blamed Shokazoba for the outcome, saying they enhanced tensions “by responding to the negativity voiced online.”
The school has agreed to pay Shokazoba in full for their troubles. Moral of the story? Don’t hire an Afrobeat band for a Halloween party.