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OU's Black Emergency Response Team alerts community to blackface incident

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BERT is the Black Emergency Response Team at the University of Oklahoma.

OU's Black Emergency Response Team tweeted a statement that it received information Sunday regarding a recent blackface incident.

"Despite not having all of the information, we are certain that our community is exhausted by such incidents of hate and ignorance," the statement said.

Destinee Dickson, BERT member and political science and women's and gender studies senior, said a university student told BERT that another person had shared a picture on his Instagram story.

"It seems clear based on what we know that it is an instance of blackface," Dickson said. "We are still trying to get details about the situation, and we will be updating people as we learn more."

BERT tweeted more about the information it had received at 6:49 p.m. Sunday. 

According to the messages BERT tweeted, an OU student posted a picture on his private Instagram story of himself in a black charcoal face mask with the caption "'another day, another case.'" According to the message, the caption could reference a January blackface incident in which two OU students withdrew from the university for their involvement in a blackface video that used a racial slur.

The OU student named in BERT's tweet is freshman Matt Robertiello, who told The Daily via Instagram direct message that the posts were being taken out of context. 

"That is me, wearing a charcoal face mask, while I was at home with my girlfriend," Robertiello said. "I did not post the picture with any intention of 'black face' as (they're) claiming I am. I feel as if I'm being framed as racist and I am not." 

OU's BSA created BERT four days after that incident, and one day after a separate incident in which an individual was seen wearing blackface. Five racist incidents occurred in total this spring in the OU and Norman community.

Interim OU President Joseph Harroz and SGA President Adran Gibbs each released statements denouncing racist acts following BERT's tweets.

Emma Davis contributed to this report.

This story was updated at 7:11 p.m. Sept. 22 to include information from Destinee Dickson and from BERT's second tweet. This story was updated at 7:25 p.m. to reflect that the university is looking into the incident. This story was updated at 12:40 a.m. Sept. 23 to include links to separate stories about the statements from Harroz and Gibbs.

Scott Kirker is a letters and Spanish senior and assistant news managing editor for The Daily. Previously he worked as summer editor-in-chief and as a news reporter covering research and administrative searches.

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