Student forced to remove black face paint because of “racist” grim reaper costume

November 3, 2016 | by | 0 Comments

A reveller who painted his face black for a ‘Grim Reaper’ fancy dress outfit was banned from a university party – because it could cause racial offence.

Ryan Lytwyn, 22, wore a creepy cloak and smeared his face black to emphasise his ghoulish white and red eyes.

But when he reached the door of the Edinburgh University Student Union Halloween event he was immediately turned away.

He fell foul of strict Union rules on fancy dress, which include a ban on Mexicans, gangsters, mental health patients and “camp men”.

Ryan Lytwyn in his grim reaper costume.

Ryan Lytwyn in his grim reaper costume.

Ryan, who graduated in politics from the university earlier this year, said: “Everyone thinks it’s ridiculous.

“I felt like I was accused of blacking up which in itself is offensive to me. It’s also quite bizarre to compare the Grim Reaper to that as well.

“I asked them if my makeup had caused offence and the manager answered no, but that some might find it offensive.

“I asked them if anyone had complained and they said no one had complained but that they might complain.

“They told me I had to leave unless I removed the makeup. To be singled out in the queue was embarrassing.”

Ryan Lytwyn

Ryan Lytwyn

Ryan was visiting a friend last Saturday night when they decided to go to the club managed by Edinburgh University Student Association.

Rather than ruin the night, Ryan – who now works for a charity – wiped off the paint with a tissue and was then let in.

“I honestly felt upset when I got into the club because I’d been singled out and it was so ridiculous,” he said.

“The student union hasn’t apologised and have said they don’t tolerate people blacking up, but the grim reaper has nothing to do with that.”

Ryan in his grim reaper costume after wiping the face paint off.

Ryan in his grim reaper costume after wiping the face paint off.

But Student Association vice-president Jenna Kelly defended the veto.

She said: “Blackface is racist and outdated – it is not permitted under any circumstances in our venues.”

Use of props by revellers to “emphasise racial characteristics” was also barred.

A warning issued this year by the student union said: “You may not think there’s a problem, but consider the impact of your choices.”

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