Twitter video sparks conversation on race


by Belle Ward and Zoe Seiler

A group of Simpson College students were featured in a video of them at a football house party singing the song “Caroline” by Aminé. The song includes the N-word, and the video shows white students singing the word.

The video features senior John Barbee and junior Adam Reiter reacting to a white, female student and others saying the word.

“Woah, that’s a lot of white people in here,” Reiter, who is white, said in the video.

Barbee, who is black, posted the video to Twitter on April 5 to bring awareness that the word is still being misused.

“I saw that was trending on Twitter, and I kind of tweeted mine to say: ‘It really happens. This isn’t just a joke, or something funny,’” Barbee said.

He said the use of the word in his daily life still surprises him.

“At the time, or even now, I think hearing it in the song, or regardless of what the context is, it is still kind of shocking,” Barbee said.

He said he did not post the video to target a specific individual but to raise awareness of the topic.

“I know just in Simpson’s campus, how small it is, and how there’s a lot of kids who come from small towns in Iowa where there aren’t a lot of black people. So that’s kind of why I want to bring attention to it,” Barbee said.

Sophomore Karrecia Crawley, who is also black, said she isn’t surprised this happened.

“Regardless of it being recorded or not, her and others were going to say the N-word. The girl just happened to be captured on video. It’s hard to be surprised at things when you expect them to happen or are used to it. This of course wasn’t a malicious event, but it just goes to show that people need to be careful of what they say at all times in public,” she said.

Barbee also said this is not the first time he has heard someone use the word on campus.

“I also have had a couple other instances with the word just walking around or stuff like that. So it’s not the first time I heard it, but it’s just like there’s not much I can do at the time, but I think the video kind of also helped me,” Barbee said.

Barbee said the video created a conversation for him. Members of fraternities and sororities and other students have approached him in support of posting the video.

He said he would like to have more discussions in the future but has concerns about finding the right environment where people feel comfortable discussing these topics.

Crawley suggested the college should host a formal event for students to learn about the history of the word and know the consequences of using it.

“Free speech is valid and I honor that, but no one can act ignorant to of the connotations of the N-word, especially when it comes out of a white person’s mouth,” Crawley said. “It’s 2019, her and others knew what they were saying, what it means, and decided to do it anyway. And students should know that if they decide to say it, it may have consequences.”

Crawley wanted students to know that one black student cannot speak on behalf of all black students, and each person will have different experiences.

“That I am not a spokesperson for the black community on this or in any matter. I don’t want it in anyone’s head that this is the way that all black Simpson students think on this issue,” Crawley said.