Liberty University

Racist Halloween Costume Sparks Debate at Liberty University; Students & Artists Respond

On Monday, October 29th, a Liberty University student named Mark Pereira, posted a picture on Instagram of he and another person posing as an ICE agent arresting a Hispanic Immigrant. (Some comments said it was his twin brother).

Not only did the post include the photo, but it was also accompanied by a video of the individuals reenacting an arrest scene while playing the Justin Bieber song, “Despacito” in the background.

The photo sparked an outrage on social media between current Liberty students, alumni, and even artists in the Christian hip-hop community.

The offensive photo really picked up steam when it was Tweeted out by former Reach Records Creative Director Alex Medina.

From here on out other prominent names in CHH began expressing their anger over what they were seeing. WHATUPRG Tweeted out a series of statements that can be followed below.

Even Lecrae responded to the tweets with, “Its [sic] wiiiild this kid in 2018 doesn’t see how racist this is.” Producer GAWVI took to his Instagram saying, “This stuff I can’t support…this is not funny at all.”

*It should be noted that Pereira has taken the pictures and videos down, and has apologized in a video. That will be at the end of the article.*

Rapzilla reached out to Liberty University for a quote on the incident and received a call back from Scott Lamb, Vice President of Special Literary Projects. He handles direct press inquiries for President Jerry Falwell Jr.

“We can’t speak about it without violating federal law,” Lamb said. “We are at a disadvantage because then everyone can say, ‘Oh there wasn’t a response’. There’s just not a lot we can do. Even if the students told you what the administration did with them, we still wouldn’t be able to respond.”

Lamb noted that he was not a direct spokesperson for the school nor was involved in the handling of any student affairs. With that being said, as stated, the school’s silence does not indicate a non-action by the school.

“I can guarantee it’s not indicative of the heart of the university – from our Iranian-American campus leader…we do a lot of things with minority groups. I won’t even try to speak for all the things we do that makes us the exact opposite of a racist campus,” he shared. “Even if the student does something wrong, it doesn’t take the wrongness away from their one action [the school’s silence]. Our actions speak loudly on what we do.”

He continued, “I think the young man apologized and he wouldn’t have done that if he had found a lot of support. It was the exact opposite.”

Yesterday, Wednesday, October 31st, minority students held a demonstration outside of Liberty University’s Student Center to express outrage over the post and alleged ongoing racism on the campus. The demonstration was not an attack on the student that made the post but to stand against a string of reported incidents that have occurred on campus.

Travis James, the head of the indie label Culture Villains, initially alerted Rapzilla to the demonstration. He along with two of his artists (KHAM and KJ Carter) had a lot to say about the incident. James is a former student of Liberty and the two rappers are current students.

“These type of events have been occurring at Liberty since I attended the school. The difference is that now social media has the power to circulate and expose this type of ignorance,” James explained. “The student that made the post has apologized and there is grace for him. However, there needs to be pushback on a school and an administration that has turned the other cheek and ignored this behavior for years. No institution should create an environment that makes select groups of individuals uncomfortable and unsafe.”

He continued, “One of the biggest disappointments is that the chancellor, Jerry Falwell Jr has not responded. I questioned him via Twitter on his lack of response and he proceeded to block me. Despite that, I am proud of the students such as Ivory Edsomwan, KHAM, and KJ Carter for taking a stand for what is right while still being a great representation of the love of Christ.”

Up and coming rapper KHAM, chimed in as well, and was part of the demonstration.

“The post was really insensitive and this is one of the most controversial topics currently in the country. Just dressing up as that is not okay, it was really an immature and insensitive thing to do. I didn’t think of it as racist. I know the guys and they are typically immature so I thought it was ignorant and insensitive. There have been instances like this before,” KHAM revealed. “There was a time someone hung a doll of Liberty University Alum and NFL Star Rashad Jennings out the window by a rope, insinuating a lynching. However, this incident was the tipping point with all these things constantly happening and leadership not moving on it.”

He continued, “We have had many meetings with different offices and departments about incidents and nothing would ever be done. What we did wasn’t a protest, it was a statement. We knew due to the string of racial acts, a lot of students are hurting and don’t feel that they have a voice. We wanted to put pressure on leadership to make a statement and be aware. Initially, at the demonstration, things were really good and people were asking what was the purpose of our demonstration They also shared their experiences of racism on campus.”

From there, KHAM said things started to escalate a bit. A mother came up with her son and denounced what they doing. She called it “a waste of time and told us she was offended by us demonstrating.”

He said there was also a man that tried to “incite us.”

“One, in particular, had a friend start recording and he came up to us aggressive, trying to get a reaction out of us. He and his friends tried to tell us police brutality doesn’t exist. After realizing his mission, we then tried to calm things and reel it back into the purpose of the demonstration.”

At the end of the demonstration, everyone gathered to pray for the climate on campus and prayed that “all Christians love as they are called to do.”

KHAM said that moving forward there are meetings with the Student Government Association VP and a meeting with the Office of Student Equity and Inclusion.

“I want leadership to respond and address this event and stop turning a blind eye to these incidents. The retention rate for African Americans is dropping year over year,” he concluded.

KJ Carter also shared some of his experiences of the day and people he knows on campus.

“As a Christian, we should empathize and sympathize with people who are in real-life situations. The act itself was racist whether intentional or not and extremely insensitive,” he said. “I don’t think it was their intent to be racist but the act itself was. We sent the post to our friends and we all discussed it as a group.”

Carter shared an incident where one of his Hispanic friends was walking on campus and had things thrown at him by a group of students as they drove by. They also called him a “Ni****.”

Liberty University

The artist and student said the demonstration’s crowd was a mixed bag.

“One guy stated that he liked that we were speaking up for others. His parents always gave him one view of African Americans and because of that, he was always uneasy around black people,” Carter stated. “At the end, there was a guy who was pursuing a criminal justice degree and was going into the police force and wanted to meet with us. He wanted to learn more about experiences in our community and our perspective. He told us he wanted to be an officer that brings change in the community and is different.”

Carter shared the same sentiments in wanted to bring about change in the school’s student culture. He said he’d like to see “sensitivity training” for those in direct contact with students.

“We have several meetings with people who say they are going to get things done and nothing is done. Notes aren’t even taken at the meetings,” he added. “Once, we had a two-hour meeting and not one single note was taken. That made us feel like we don’t even matter. Based on this, we feel like they meet with us just to cross it off the task list.”

The student who posted the pictures said that he is half Brazilian and his father is an immigrant in a now deleted comment. However, those facts did little to ease the offense of the costume.

Below is Video of the Liberty University Student Apologizing:

What do you think?

Justin Sarachik

Written by Justin Sarachik

Justin is the Editor-in-Chief of He has been a journalist for over a decade and has written or edited for Relevant, Christian Post, BREATHEcast, CCM, Broken Records Magazine, & more. He also likes to work with indie artists to develop their brands & marketing strategies. Catch him interviewing artists on Survival of the Artist Podcast.

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