White singer sparks outrage by 'blacking up' for Beyonce tribute act at Cambridge
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Attendees at Cambridge University's Robinson College were shocked when their annual May Ball on 16th June hosted a performance from white singer Leanne Harper, who appeared to 'black up' using cosmetic makeup in order to perform as Beyonce. The prestigious event, which is held yearly at the college, costs between £100 and £125 per attendee and this year focused on the theme of Night Circus. A promotional tease on the event's website read, 'As the sun sets on Friday 16th June the Night Circus will arrive at Robinson College for one night and one night only.' Leanne Harper's act, which had previously been cancelled by Durham Pride following a significant backlash, began at roughly 3:50am. Very soon after, however, many disgruntled event-goers had taken to social media to express disgust. Lola Olufemi, the college's incoming Women's Officer, tweeted: "I dont kno (sic) what smacked more, the fact that in 2017 organisers couldnt do a common google search to check the validity of their performer. Or being reminded, even at one of your final events @ cambridge surrounded by friends you love, that black people at this univ get no REST." She finished by angrily asserting, "Imagine I paid money to see a white woman pretend to be Beyoncé & my white peers hooting and hollering dancing along like its nothing." An official statement from The Presidents of the Robinson May Ball Committee, Tasha Robinson and Becky Mackett, addressed the issue: "This was a bona fide act booked through a recognised agency, and no offence was 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." The statement finished by saying, "We will be working with next years committee to avoid similar occurrences." Harper remained nonchalant to the criticism, stating: "I only put on St Tropez tan like I would for a night out." Olufemi confirmed that event organisers did later apologise for the controversy caused.
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