The University of Memphis in Tennessee responded after a photo of a group of young black students about to hit a pinata went viral.
The reason for the controversy? The pinata in question was shaped like a white female hula dancer.
Local NBC affiliate WMC-TV reported the photo was taken Thursday during an annual luau-themed campus event to which local schoolchildren were invited.
"It didn't look right, just because of the social climate we're in right now," University of Memphis student Veronica Birmingham, who took the photo, told WMC. "How could somebody be so insensitive and not realize this might cause an issue?"
Birmingham told the station she sent it to a friend, who then posted it on Facebook.
"She said it blew up in seconds," Birmingham said. "Everybody was like, wow, how did this happen?"
Among the replies, WMC reported, were calls of "reverse racism" and that it sent the message that it's okay to beat women.
"The photograph taken out of context may be disconcerting, but we want to assure our community that no racial or gender animosity was intended," read a statement from the university's residence hall organization, which produced the event.
The school said the activity was "one of numerous activities" held at the luau, and that the hula dancer was one of three pinatas used.
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