Dave Ackerman, a stand-up comedian, recently decided to dress up in blackface and interview BYU students to ask them about their knowledge of black history month and what they do to celebrate.
Ackerman posted a video of the interviews on YouTube last Tuesday. The video has already received more than 623,000 views.
Brielle Story, a senior from San Antonio, majoring in advertising, said she felt the video represented students who can recognize a joke and play along.
“David presented himself in full, unrealistic make-up, obviously people weren’t going to take him very seriously,” Story said. “I know the aim was to provide a social commentary, but if you want a true measure, you have to approach it with some professionalism.”
Story said she would expect similar responses if other college campuses were to interview students about Mormon persecution, yet she is not going to accuse people of being intolerant to religion because of that.
Justin Mann, a junior from Visalia, Calif., majoring in finance, said he felt the video was comical, but may have harmed how people outside of Provo see BYU students.
“The choice to interview in blackface was super tacky, but the responses were super funny,” Mann said. “However, at the same time I can see that it looks really bad for someone not from BYU if they see it, because we look ignorant and racist.”
While Mann said he feels this video has had a negative affect on how BYU students are viewed, Mann also thinks there would be similar outcome at most universities in the U.S.
Adam Heimbigner, a sophomore from South Jordan, majoring in sound recording technology, also said he did not feel the video was a fair representation of BYU.
“I thought it had great intentions, but going blackface and acting ‘black’ went a little too far,” Heimbigner said. “As a whole, our knowledge of black history probably isn’t that in depth, but I feel we can tell when a white guy is dressed up as a black man.”