UPDATE: Display at MSU’s Wharton Center sparks outrage

Michigan

EAST LANSING, MICH. (WLNS) — Michigan State University’s Wharton Center created some controversy following what some people are calling an offensive display of prominent black figures.

“We walked into the gift shop and I see these little black figures and so we looked closely and I’m just like really,” said Krystal Davis-Dunn. She was shocked by what she saw.

“It’s insensitive for the fact of the historical context it’s, ya know, the lynching of African Americans. It’s a fear tactic.”

Davis-Dunn says she doesn’t feel a sense of urgency from MSU to fix racial problems.

“Something has to happen now,” she said. “I don’t know what that is, but there has to be someone paying attention, someone capable of making changes and addressing these things that are happening now.”

Some of the figures hanging from strings on display trees in the gift shop included former First Lady Michelle Obama, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr. and former President Barack Obama. On a separate tree display, other white figurines were shown.

6 News did reach out to MSU for a comment.

“We were made aware of an inappropriate and insensitive display at the Wharton Center Gift Shop which used a tree-like rack to hold historical black figures. Regardless of the intent of the display, its impact cannot be ignored – people were hurt and offended. We sincerely apologize to our community members and have immediately removed the display. Additionally, after the Wharton Center reported the incident, it agreed to provide employees and volunteers with racial bias training that focuses on the impact and understanding of intentional and unintentional racial bias. We have work to do, and MSU remains committed to creating a culture that is inclusive and safe for all faculty, staff, students and visitors. As we enter Black History Month, it’s important we not only recognize the many contributions of African Americans, but we remember history and confront all bias.”

MSU Spokesperson Emily Gerkin Guerrant

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