Good morning, PR pros:
Belgium’s Africa Museum apologized after hosting an Africa-themed event organized by events company Thé Dansant. Several attendees showed up in racist attire—including blackface—and backlash erupted as the images made the rounds online.
Africa Museum brass quickly distanced itself from the event in its mea culpa—quite a feat, considering it happened on museum grounds:
IMPORTANT MESSAGE | Last Sunday, Thé Dansant organized an ‘Afrohouse’-themed event in Tervuren park. As we indicated in a previous post, AfricaMuseum was not the event organizer. We agreed to provide access to the site based on the recommendation of the municipality of Tervuren. When the event was announced on Facebook, we noticed that the dress code suggested by Thé Dansant would likely encourage highly clichéd and stereotypical representations of people of African origin. The museum immediately contacted Thé Dansant to point out the potential consequences of this approach, and to ask the organizers to change the dress code. This measure turned out to be insufficient as some of the participants still chose to wear stereotypical outfits. A number of hurtful and humiliating photos taken during the event are now circulating online. The AfricaMuseum misjudged this situation and should have played a greater role in imposing clear requirements and/or conditions in advance. We take this incident seriously, and want to apologize for mishandling the situation in such a way that this took place. We take responsibility for this lapse in judgment, and are working on an ethical action plan for upcoming events so that this will not happen in the future.