Sorority Sister Denies Being Racist After Video Asking Permission to Sing N-Word in 'Freaky Friday'

William Paterson University and Penn State University issued statements this week condemning videos that showed two white women, one of whom was confirmed to be a Delta Phi Epsilon sorority sister, repeatedly using the n-word and asking for permission to sing the racial epithet in rap songs.

One of the videos shows a woman identified by William Paterson's newspaper as Jasmine Barkley, who was recently elected vice president of the school's Greek Senate. The video, which has received tens of thousands of views on Instagram and Twitter, shows her asking viewers if it’s okay for white people to say the n-word, specifically when singing along to the Lil Dicky and Chris Brown track, "Freaky Friday."

A second video shows a woman wearing Penn State University clothing repeatedly singing the n-word into the phone. Penn State issued a statement Tuesday in which it would not confirm if the second woman was a student. The statement added that the school can't punish students due to their First Amendment rights but its Office of Student Conduct is investigating.

At one point, the woman in a Penn State cheerleading outfit leans into the camera and says, “If you’re offended, suck my d—.” The video featuring Barkley offers “Yes” and “No” tabs to vote on whether or not white people can say the n-word.

“Is it appropriate for me to say the word [expletive] if it’s in a song and you’re singing the lyrics or is it not appropriate for me to say [expletive]?” Barkley asks viewers. A second woman can be seen and heard in the background repeatedly asking “What up [expletive]?” as Barkley poses the question.

After thousands of replies blasted the two videos, Barkley received her answer. Both William Paterson and the Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority issued statements on Facebook condemning the video; Barkley was removed from her PanHellenic position.

“Delta Phi Epsilon will not tolerate racism. The woman in the video is no longer a member of DPhiE. Our organization was founded by five Jewish women who were discriminated against. They stood up for social justice and we continue to stand for that today. We will be forming a task force on diversity and inclusion as a result of this incident,” the sorority statement, which was posted to Facebook on Sunday, read.

New Jersey's William Paterson University also posted a statement to Facebook on Sunday in which it derided the "abhorrent and racially charged statements [made] at a non-University gathering."

"We are disgusted by this behavior which does not reflect our values or those we expect from our students. University staff are investigating the matter to determine what actions are appropriate,” the statement said. 

A statement provided to Newsweek by William Paterson President Kathleen Waldron is as follows: 

We immediately decided to review the incident and requested that the Office of Student Conduct do so. Following the review, the Office of Student Conduct, in consultation with Employment Equity and Diversity, concluded that based upon the evidence presented there has been no violation of the Student Code of Conduct in this specific incident. However, the student, who held leadership positions previously, is no longer affiliated with any student organization at the University. The Student Code of Conduct outlines behavioral standards students are expected to abide by.

This incident has prompted strong reactions in our community. On Friday, April 27 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Student Center, there will be a Town Hall Forum to discuss campus climate and how our community is responding to this incident.

Penn State took a different position and tweeted that while the school supports “diversity & inclusion,” it could not "impose sanctions for Constitutionally protected speech, no matter how offensive.”

Barkley issued an apology and an open letter Monday through the WPU official student newspaper, The Beacon. In it, Barkley declared that she is not a racist, although much of her statement asserted that it is "hypocritical" and divisive that black people can use the n-word, but not white people.

“I am not a racist. I believe in equality and respect among all. The videos have been misconstrued in many ways across the media. I admit that the place and context of how I presented my question was insensitive,” the apology stated. “I am deeply sorry to those that have been offended from what was happening in the video.”

The apology then discusses the use of the word in music, and whether or not it should be used in hip-hop at all.  Barkley said she had heard similar music played on campus that "has repeatedly included the n-word and other vulgar terms."

“If a word is offensive to a particular race then it should not be presented in music,” she continued. "When an interracial group sings along to lyrics including the n-word people don’t call out those who are not black, racist for singing along."

She added that if Martin Luther King Jr. or other historical African-American figures were alive today, "They wouldn't be shocked by white people using the n-word but by those of the black race using the n-word." 

“I posed a controversial question because I was upset that my friend was harassed for singing along to the lyrics of 'Freaky Friday' by Lil Dicky featuring Chris Brown. I never attacked a specific person or group,” wrote Barkley. She then referenced a YouTube video posted by popular New York-based radio host Charlamagne Tha God, who argued that black people should stop using the n-word. "We can't get mad at nobody else for using the word [expletive]" if it's being used among African-Americans, he said. 

A Snapchat response from Barkley also has the caption "It Was A Genuine Question."

The Lil Dicky (whose real name is David Burd) and Chris Brown song "Freaky Friday' was released last month.

The William Paterson video is not the first occasion in which "Freaky Friday" has been tied to sorority members getting kicked out for quoting the song. Four members of the Delta Zeta sorority at Miami University in Ohio were dismissed after a video showing them singing the n-word lyrics of the track received widespread backlash earlier this month.

William Paterson University's administration did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.