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Mass. college cancels music show because band ‘too white’

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A band set to perform at Hampshire College in Massachusetts was sent packing, after a social media campaign morphed into a movement and students deemed the group "too white" to play.

The band, Shokazoba, plays what's called Afrobeat music, United Press International reported. Some of the members are white — but not all, and as keyboardist Jason Moses said to The Republican newspaper, he didn't think race was an issue, anyway.

The band was set to play at the school's yearly Halloween party. But a handful of students complained on Facebook that the band was "too white," UPI said. Ultimately, about 30 joined in the call for the group's removal from the schedule.

Mr. Moses said he and his bandmates are upset at the reasons for the cancellation, and wonder why race mattered for the occasion.

"[Race is] not important to us," he said, to The Republican. "Music and art have the opportunity to transcend all that. It was just absolutely a disgusting experience. It felt like we were demonized. I didn't feel they should cancel us."

A spokeswoman for the college, Elaine Thomas, said students "questioned the selection of one band, asking whether it was a predominantly white Afrobeat band, and expressing their concerns about cultural appropriation and the need to respect marginalized cultures."

She added, UPI reported: Students "meant no disrespect ... but wished to raise larger questions and deeper thought within our community."

Ms. Thomas finally concluded, with this rather unclear statement, UPI reported: But "unfortunately, voices unconnected to our campus and to the events of Hampshire Halloween drowned out a reasonable conversation about how to ensure that the entire student community could have a safe and happy evening. As can happen on social media, posts from off-campus individuals trivialized the concerns of our students and made them feel disrespected."

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