A famous gorilla can no longer even be mentioned on campus, as references to his death can be a “form of racism,” or “add to rape culture.”
An administrator at Clemson University sent an email Friday demanding that all signs and references to Harambe be removed by September 30.
“We are no longer allowing any reference to Harambe (or any other spelling) to be displayed on doors, halls, billboards, or windows. Harambe should not be displayed in a public place of a place that is viewed by the public.”
The reason? Campus Reform shared the university’s announcement: “If residents are asking why they have to take them down, you can share that there was a report from an individual about a meme being offensive and bias in nature and as a result, all Harambe references are no longer allowed without our community.”
In a follow-up email responding to another student’s question, it was explained that “although I (nor your RA) can share the incident that was reported that resulted in this change, we have to remember that we all come different backgrounds and have different identities that shape how we are affected by different references.”
The students were warned to be “inclusive in your words” so you’re not reported for using bias language against someone. The university official wrote, ““While we are not banning the word, I want to encourage you to think about what you are saying and how someone who may be a different gender, race, culture, or sexuality than you may take the comment.”
Harambe, the beloved gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, celebrated his 17th birthday on May 27, 2016. The very next day, an unsupervised 4-year-old boy managed to climb over into the gorilla’s enclosure and fell down into the moat. Zoo officials believed the boy was in danger and made the decision to shoot Harambe in order to retrieve the child.
Since Harambe’s death was so publicized and so controversial, memes started appearing in his honor, and were used in many different forms, whether it was to honor him specifically, or for another cause.
According to Vox, it was the black community who first embraced the meme “as a form of protest, to comment ironically on the ways in which society tends to minimize and overlook the deaths of ordinary people of color.”
A Hispanic Trump supporter used the gorilla as an example in an interview, saying a proper wall in place would have prevented Harambe from being killed.
Some memes were in poor taste (such as “dicks out for Harambe” and “Harambe did 9/11”), others harmless and some honorable. The Cincinnati Zoo said in August they were “not amused” by the memefication of Harambe.
Now Clemson University has taken it a step further – references to the gorilla are now considered a form of racism and he is not to be mentioned or seen in public, because someone might be offended.
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