OGDEN -- When Adrienne Gillespie saw a Utah video in the news and that it was close to becoming viral, she had a gut reaction.
"I am so offended, so disheartened," she posted on her Facebook page. "Few things give me pause such as this."
Gillespie, Weber State University's Diversity Center coordinator and heir to a family heritage of fighting against racism, had discovered a video by Provo comedian Dave Ackerman, 31, a white man who darkened his skin with makeup to quiz Brigham Young University students on black history and culture.
"First of all, I was horrified that anyone would find it appropriate do something in blackface," Gillespie said.
Historically, white performers used blackface to parody African-Americans, portraying them as oversexualized buffoons, she said.
"The effect was to dehumanize black people, to make us simply a jock, not human and deserving the same regard as other people."
Gillespie was also bothered by one white student who said she found it distasteful when white students "acted black," but when black men "acted white," she found it "classy."
Gillespie said she was offended by the thought of judging people as higher or lower class based on race or on perceived culture-based behavior.
And Gillespie said she was upset by a white student who identified himself as a missionary who had served in the South, so had been around "colored people."
"Historically, 'colored' is a word weighted with pain, discrimination and inhumanity," Gillespie said. "It was shocking. I thought, 'Wow, you really did not learn a lot about race or cultural awareness on your mission, and what a great opportunity you missed.' "
Gillespie doesn't think a lack of awareness about black history is unique to BYU.
"It could have been any college," she said. "And the man could also have gotten better answers and just used the answers he wanted. He had the potential to raise important questions, like why students don't understand.
"The good thing that can come out of this is an honest dialogue where people take responsibility for their learning.
"We are not just talking about black and white people. We are all responsible for sharing our own heritage and understanding the heritages of others. All of it is human history."