‘Blackface’ May Ball performer causes controversy

Image credit: Matt Price

A Beyoncé tribute performer caused significant offence at last night’s Robinson May Ball due to the fact that she used cosmetics to darken her skin tone for the performance.

The tribute singer Leanne Harper, who is white, completed her set on the Robinson main stage as ‘Beeyonce’ in the early hours of Saturday morning, with some students seemingly enjoying the performance, whilst others were clearly upset. Party-goers and students took to social media to express their disgust.

Lola Olufemi, incoming CUSU Women’s Officer, tweeted: “ I don’t kno what smacked more, the fact that in 2017 organizers couldn’t do a common google search 2 check the validity of their performer.

“Or being reminded, even at one of your final events @ camb, surrounded by friends you love, that black people at this uni get no REST”

Harper had been billed to perform at Durham Pride earlier this year, but her set was cancelled after a number of university groups boycotted the event in protest. At the time, Harper was quoted in the Daily Mail as responding: "Never in all the years have I had anything like this before. I only put on St Tropez tan like I would for a night out."

In a statement to Varsity, the Presidents of the Robinson May Ball Committee, Tasha Robinson and Becky Mackett, gave the following statement:

“We would like to sincerely apologise for any offence caused by the Beyoncé tribute act at Robinson May Ball last night. This was a bona fide act booked through a recognised agency, and no offence was intended by any member of the Committee or anyone associated with it. We will happily receive any comments or issues raised by attendees and those affected – please address these to the Committee at presidents2017@robinsonmayball.co.uk. We will be working with next year’s Committee to avoid similar occurrences. Finally, we would like to reiterate our apologies and thank all guests for their patience and understanding in this matter.”

The Cambridge Student has contacted the committee.

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