Oxford University in 'colonial' cocktail row

A debating society at Oxford University has been accused of racism after a student complained about a "highly offensive" cocktail advertised at a debate about the British Empire.

London: A debating society at Oxford University has been accused of racism after a student complained about a "highly offensive" cocktail advertised at a debate about the British Empire.

The 200-year-old Oxford Union debating society at the world famous university advertised "The Colonial Comeback" cocktail on a poster featuring a picture of black hands in chains as part of a debate on the British Empire.

The debate, titled 'This House Believes Britain Owes Reparations to her Former Colonies', involved Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and British historian Professor John Mackenzie.

It was, however, marred by the 2.50 pound drink made up of Brandy, Peach Schnapps and lemonade.

The University Student Union's Black and Minority Ethnic and Anti-Racism Officer Nikhil Venkatesh told the 'Oxford Student' newspaper that the drink's name was "highly offensive".

"Reducing imperial violence to a cocktail with a punning name is obviously highly offensive. Sadly the Oxford Union doesn't have a great track record on being sensitive to people of colour, and this is symptomatic of a poisonous culture that affects many parts of that institution," he told the newspaper.

PhD student Adam Cooper, who lodged the official complaint after which the poster was removed, added: "I really wasn't expecting something that celebrated enslavement and colonialism in such a crass way. It was something I really didn't expect and it was really shocking.

"I'm Afro-Caribbean. Oxford still has a problem with racism. I think racism is widespread at Oxford and I think this kind of poster is a crass example of how unashamed that racism is. I can't think of anything worse than a cocktail that celebrates enslavement."

The cocktail was also condemned on social media and one comment on the anti-racism Facebook group Skin Deep said: "This is disgraceful".

Oxford Union Treasurer Zuleyka Shahin has apologised for any offence caused.

 

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