Two young women at major public campuses in the south use the N-word on social media and face a barrage of criticisms. Now, both have left their universities and fled social media.
The University of Alabama, which has successfully marketed itself to students outside the south, moved quickly last week to expel Harley Barber, a sorority sister from New Jersey who declared her love of Alpha Phi and her hatred of blacks on a viral video. (Alpha Phi also kicked her out.)
Closer to home, on Friday Georgia State University suspended soccer player Natalia Martinez who used the N-word on an Instagram message. Facing a petition pushing for her expulsion, the soccer player from Florida today withdrew from GSU.
Both these students are young; Barber was a sophomore at Alabama; Martinez was a freshman at GSU. It is still hard to imagine they were unaware of the possible consequences of posting a racial epithet on social media
In the same issue of the GSU Signal reporting the mounting outrage over Martinez is an essay about the online world in which the author describes different strategies, including: "You should pretend that everything you do on the internet is as if you’re living in a glass house. Everyone can, at all times, see what you’re doing so you should act as such."
Barber’s transgression was the far more extreme; she initially posted an anti-black video tirade and then went even further with a crude second video attacking her critics and doubling down on her freedom to use the N-word now that she was in the South. Barber is now back in New Jersey.
Martinez used the N-word comment on Instagram where it was disseminated and decried. A petition launched Saturday, which has nearly 639 signatures, states:
On 01/19/2018, A member of the Georgia State University Soccer Team posted racial slurs toward other black students calling them “n******.” As a progressive, diverse university, we GSU students feel like this sort of behavior should not be tolerated and that Natalia should be expelled from the university. Georgia State's mission statement states that we “provide an outstanding education and exceptional support for students from all backgrounds”, and these Panther values are not concurrent with the very disturbing statements made publicly by the GSU freshman and soccer player."
Almost every comment on the petition is critical of the GSU student and supports her expulsion:
•As a student and staff member at GSU, I want people on our campus to feel safe. Our school prides itself on diversity and inclusion, so comments and phrasing that marginalize and negatively affect a VERY large sum of our student populus have NO PLACE on this campus. Go up to Athens if you want to be racist. Stay out of Atlanta.
•Actions need real consequences. As a student at the University of Alabama, which recently dealt with the Harley Barber incident, it is important to condemn and punish people like this as strongly as possible.
•As alumni, a person of color, and a veteran, I cannot stand for this deplorable behavior to be tolerated. I did not go 40,000 dollars in debt to have an institution dedicated to diversity be neutral about such blatant racism.
But there are also these comments:
•The fact that you all would call for someone's expulsion just because they said a word you don't like is ridiculous.
•If she was black no one would have said a thing.
By the way, both these young women posted on what is being called Finsta -- for fake Instagram. The AJC has a good primer on it that explains: A Finsta, a combination of the words “fake” and “Instagram,” is essentially a fake second Instagram account cultivated for a much smaller, private audience. Compared to the often filtered images shared to a user’s “Rinsta” (or “real” Instagram account), a Finsta features a much more unfiltered experience.
A friend's teen put it more succinctly: "It's where we post stuff we don't want our mothers to see. "