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College group’s diversity event canceled after excluding white people

- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2014

An event meant to celebrate diversity and combat racism at a Washington state community college has been cancelled after a flier emailed to guests said white people weren't invited.

A group of employees, under the name "Staff, Faculty and Administrators of Color," at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia sent an invitation to all 300 staffers to attend a diversity "happy hour," a local news station reported.

School officials were asked to reply to the invitation to find out the confidential date and time of when the event would be held. According to the station, the invite made it clear white people were not invited.

"If you want to create space for white folks to meet and work on racism, white supremacy, and white privilege to better our campus community and yourselves, please feel free to do just that," the email read.

Diversity and Equity Center staffer Karama Blackhorn helped write the invitation and said she stands by her opinion that staff members of color would have a more honest discussion about race without white people there.

"When trying to explicitly talk about race it can be a really difficult conversation for a lot of people," she told the station.

"That space is not for white people. That space is for people of color," she said of the center.

But the school disagreed and canceled the event, issuing an apology on its Facebook page.

"[T]he campus community immediately responded to the lack of inclusion," the apology read. "Within minutes, the Center apologized, the event was cancelled, and if rescheduled, will of course be open to anyone who wants to come. It was simply a mistake by someone new to our community."

"It was obviously a mistake," SPSCC's Dean of College Relations, Kellie Purce Braseth, told the station. "If you want to come you should be able to come, that just makes a richer conversation."

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