Young woman expelled from University of Alabama for using racial slurs in Instagram videos

Jakob Aggers, Ranger Review Editor

Harley Barber, a 19-year-old girl was expelled from the University of Alabama for an extreme use of racial slurs in multiple Instagram videos and causation of a social upheaval. She has received a great social backlash as well as expulsion from her sorority, Alpha Phi.

Barber posted a video containing racial slurs specifically about the poor in Syria a few days prior to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In this video, she also stated “I love how I act like I love black people,” all while ranting in front of a bathroom sink.

This video was posted on her “Finsta,” which is “a combination of the words Fake & Insta(gram),” according to the Urban Dictionary. It received an extremely negative reaction and Barber was told by her sorority to take down the video.

In response to this backlash, Barber then posted another video on Martin Luther King Jr. Day containing an extreme amount of profanities and racial slurs. She attacked certain people, claiming that they didn’t have the right to criticize her for what she said in a video on a private Instagram account.

In the second video, Barber said the “n-word” multiple times in addition to claiming that this was justified because she used to live in New Jersey before moving to Alabama.

“I realize that we have freedom of speech and I respect that, but she needs to take her New Jersey self back to New Jersey and keep her comments in her own state,” said Ms. Morgan, an English teacher at Lewis-Palmer High School, in response to being asked about the relevance of where Barber previously resided.

Barber was expelled soon after from the University of Alabama and kicked out of her sorority, Alpha Phi. There has been a rising controversy about the legality of her being released from enrollment of Alabama as it is a public school.

“I feel like the sorority did have to power to expel her, but Alabama, being a public school should identify that right to free speech and not condemn her because of what she said,” stated Andrew McCann 10.

This brings up a new question: do the racial slurs and profanities that Harley Barber said to fall under the First Amendment and are they protected by the right to freedom of speech?

“I think her attitude is terrible, but I do feel that she is exercising her right of free speech. She states that her being from New Jersey gives her the right to say what she wants, but it’s really her first amendment rights that give her the freedom to say those things. As horrible and as wrong as they may be, her claim that she can say that stuff is completely valid,” said McCann 10.

The backlash that Barber has since faced, mainly on social media, has both criticized the actions that Harley has made and has questioned her integrity, honor, morals. There has also been a question of the intent of her actions.

“The only reason she used that racial slur was to be offensive. We choose the words that we use because we want to get a response to what we have to say. That was intended to be offensive”, said Ms. Morgan. “Nobody should respect that kind of talk. There’s nothing honorable about kind of communication. It’s offensive; it’s rude.”

This brings up a new question about racial slurs in general and the specific intent of most profanities. With racism spiking in the U.S., instances like this and the actions of Harley Barber and general racism is being criticized in a new light.

“It makes me pretty pissed off that people can just say these things and get little to no repercussions. It upsets me that there’s still racism and people won’t shut up no matter if it’s about blacks or whites or Mexicans,” stated Justin Pennell 10. “People generally need to stop bringing up race and making it a problem. Everyone should treat each other the same way and judge each other by character and not by race.”

Soon after the social backlash, Harley Barber publicly apologized for her actions. She recognized her mistakes and the effect of racial profanities.

“I am so sorry for the things I said. I was ignorant and did not understand the impact that this word has on people. I am so sorry that I did this and deeply regret it,” said Barber in an interview. “Going forward, I promise to be more conscientious of my language and actions. I am so sorry to anyone I offended; I am not a good representation of this chapter.”

In recognition of her apology, Barber must now face the repercussions of her actions and learn from her mistakes.

“I think that everyone deserves a second chance. Yesterday is yesterday. We all make mistakes and we all make bad choices at sometimes. I think that she needs lots of help and lots of counseling and lots of support because she is obviously extremely immature,” said Ms. Morgan. “You can’t teach maturity; a person has to grow into it. And sometimes, you need to grow into it by making mistakes and having to get back up.”