Athletic Director Bobby Williams: “Insensitivity and poor judgement”

A prominent Bearkat student-athlete posted a racially insensitive video on Snapchat in blackface discussing “makeup goals fr”

Sam Houston State University sophomore guard Jenniffer Oramas is taking heat following a racially insensitive video that surfaced on Twitter around midnight on Tuesday. The athletic department issued a statement, but no further action has been taken.

The video appeared on freshman post Hannah Knight’s Snapchat and was later shared to Twitter causing SHSU to trend on the social media platform. The 14-second video showed Oramas sitting on a bathroom countertop wearing blackface makeup, bobbing her head around before looking at the camera and saying “Black girl Jenn.” Oramas then jumped down and blew a kiss at the camera.

Blackface is a form of theatrical makeup used predominately by non-black performers to represent a black person. It was popular in the 1800s and contributed to the spread of several racial stereotypes.

The point guard deactivated her Twitter account following the video going viral and has yet to release an official statement regarding the incident.

Athletics Emphasizes Social Media Responsibility

Athletic Director Bobby Williams said neither Oramas nor the women’s basketball head coach would comment on the story, but Williams and the athletic department did issue a statement regarding social media responsibility Tuesday afternoon.

“Our program fosters an inclusive environment encouraging respect of diverse backgrounds and ideas,” Williams said. “We uphold these core values despite any insensitivity and poor judgment on social media by an individual.”

University President Dana Hoyt broke her silence on Twitter a couple hours after the athletic department issued its statement.

“We expect certain behavior from our SHSU students and greater community that is consistent with our values,” Hoyt tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “It’s disappointing when one of our own falls short but it serves as a learning opportunity for us all. This situation is under disciplinary review by the athletics department.”

Oramas joined the Bearkats in 2016 and immediately made her presence known on the court. The sophomore led the team in scoring and assists this season, posting 10 points per game while notching 3.2 assists per game. She played in 26 of 27 contests in 2017-18 as the Kats finished with a 4-23 overall record.

This incident comes just three weeks after The Houstonian published an article regarding student athletes and social media. According to Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations Jason Barfield, each team has athletes on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) that internally monitor social media accounts so there is not much administrative involvement.

Adrian Contreras, junior safety for SHSU football and representative for SHSU SAAC, reinforced that social media can be used by student athletes in a beneficial way.

“You don’t want to do anything or put anything out there that would make the institution or yourself look bad,” Contreras said. “That’s pretty simple. The thing is when you hear about social media and the NCAA, it can have a negative connotation but it can be used in such a positive way, like promoting our [school] name and other teams at the school.”

Former/Current Bearkat Athletes Respond

A handful of former Bearkat athletes have already spoken on the situation via social media.

“I don’t understand how y’all can fight for this girl to be expelled for this,” P.J. Hall, the FCS all-time leader in tackles for loss and former Bearkat defensive lineman, said in a tweet early Tuesday morning. “Y’all really want this girl to fail. I was raised to pray for people so they fix their problems, not help add fuel so they can have their life ruined. I pray for those who do wrong also.”

SHSU all-time leader in made three pointers Dakarai Henderson is a strong advocate of the black community and once raised his fist during the national anthem before a basketball game. Along with Hall, Henderson expressed his thoughts on Twitter early Tuesday morning.

“I like the energy and coming together through negativity,” Henderson tweeted. “But where was that same energy when someone is trying to do something positive? Let alone support? Where’s the wave at? Why we only blow up negative situations? All that talent at SHSU and that’s the only thing that’s trending?”

Senior running back Remus Bulmer also leapt to Oramas’ defense on Twitter saying she “has a good heart and intentions aren’t bad at all.”

“I know her boyfriend. He’s black,” Bulmer tweeted. “She got a good heart and intentions aren’t bad at all. People make everything about race. Some care others just want retweets. Way more to care about then someone acting out with they friends we all been there done that.” 

The Houstonian will continue to monitor the situation.

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