Hampshire College Cancels Band for Controversy Sparked on Social Media

BandHampshire College, which is located in Amherst, Massachusetts, is home to 1,461 students of various backgrounds. In order to create a fun atmosphere and connect students, the college puts on a “Hampshire Halloween” party every year. Each student is allowed to bring up to three guests and the school campus is closed down just for the party. The tradition now attracts more students than ever and features live entertainment, costumes and a lot of fun activities for everyone to enjoy. Unfortunately, the party this year is bringing in a bit more controversy than normal.

The band Shokazoba was set to play for the bash on Friday night, but this never happened because of harsh words and a campaign-for-cancel from students. Even though the band had a contract with the school to play for the event, they were canceled due to a conflict with students who attend the college. It all started on the band’s Facebook page, where they were advertising for the event. Someone who attends the school wrote that they felt the band was not the right ethnicity to play the Afrobeat music that they are known in the community for. Jason Moses, the band’s keyboard player, felt that this was unfair, as the band shouldn’t be judged for the music they play or their ethnicity.

Shokazoba is a band made up of ten different people, and not all of them are white. They actually come from varied backgrounds, but they still feel that their race should never have been an issue. The Hype Committee, which is the group responsible for putting on the Hampshire Halloween bash every year, decided to cancel. Their official statement regarding the cancellation was released on their Facebook page so students would know what was happening.

Hampshire College spokeswoman Elaine Thomas stated that she and the rest of the board met with members of the school on October 24. During this meeting students were able to voice their thoughts and concerns about the band playing. She also stated that the comments made on social media were by off-campus students who were not the voice of those who actually made the final decision to cut the band. The committee did meet with the band on Friday to cancel with them (while still paying them in full), and that is when they brought up the fact that there was tension due to the band defending themselves to the comments online. The band felt that they shouldn’t have been judged for clearing their name on their own social media page.

All band members felt that this situation was not fair, but said that playing at the school was a possibility, as long as the Hype Committee wasn’t planning the event. Hundreds of comments have flooded the Facebook page for the Hype Committee, as a lot of students were looking forward to seeing the band play and don’t understand why they were ever canceled. This has sparked a lot of discussions about cultural appropriation in the school, which is sure to lead to changes in the future.