Sacramento State University students were in for a surprise earlier in December when they walked through campus and witnessed a shocking sight: two white men hanging from a tree with a noose wrapped around their necks.
No one was hurt by unbelievable display, which turned out to be an art project by fellow African American student Christina Edwards, but that hasn’t stopped it from sparking outrage among fellow campus goers and outsiders.
According to a statement released by Edwards and obtained by student publication the Campus Culture, she wanted to record people’s response to the sight of the violent lynching process used to kill many African Americans throughout America’s past.
"My choice to cross racial lines was intentional to create an open opportunity to personalize and empathize with his-story as a people and hopefully initiate compassion and change in terms of social and racial availability and equality," she wrote.
Edwards added that while she did not mean to offend anyone, she believes that much more needs to be done to address the country’s racial issues and social inequality problems.
“The purpose of this performance was to bring to light social injustices and the issue of inequality that impacts me and my community as a whole,” she wrote.
One of male performers who took part in the display – who chose to remain unidentified – told Campus Culture that he agreed the race reversal would make the project stand out more.
”If you switch the context up it would be provocative in that sense,” he said, “which signifies the lack of acknowledgement and recognition of the original context and crime.”
Although Edwards claimed faculty services gave her the green light for the project, University President Alexander Gonzalez disagreed.
“It appears that the individuals involved did not intend for the display to incite violence, though it offended members of our community,” he wrote. “The university did not approve the display, and I want to assure everyone that I am working to address the multiple issues raised by this incident,” he wrote in an email distributed to students.”