After former Alpha Phi member Harley Barber was expelled by the University of Alabama, her mother is slamming the behavior. Barber went viral after posting two clips on Martin Luther King Day dropping the n-word and making racist remarks. Now, her estranged mother, Jill Barbera, says she agrees that Barber should have been kicked out of school and suspended from the sorority.
“I agree with the punishment,” Barbera told NJ.com Thursday, Jan. 18. “I fully support their decision. This is not a reflection of how she was raised. She’s just degrading herself and it breaks my heart. I hope someone can look at this and learn. I don’t want anyone to feel what I feel.”
Barber told the New York Post Wednesday that she was expelled and had been packing to return home to New Jersey. Barbera said she had a brief phone call with her 19-year-old daughter that night, which was the first contact they’ve had since Barber was kicked out of the house in Dec. 2016.
“I love my kid,” said Barbera, who cited months of arguing as what led Barber to live with her paternal grandmother. “I wish this never happened for everyone involved. I can’t apologize for her actions, and I won’t. But I’ll apologize for the pain it caused people.”
Barber has also apologized for her actions, telling the Post that she feels “so, so bad and I am so sorry.”
Still, her mother is worried about how the memory of the incident will affect her younger daughter. Barbera has also received threatening comments on social media.
“How do you tell a 10-year-old kid this?” she said. “I really want people to know that I am not sitting hugging Harley on the couch saying, ‘It’s okay.'”
And while Barber hopes her older daughter can overcome the situation, former officials with the American Civil Liberties Union believe Barber’s punishment doesn’t fit the crime.
“The University of Alabama is an educational institution, and this was a teachable moment that you should not squander,” said the open letter from three civil rights activists, which was obtained by NJ.com Friday, Jan. 19. “The impulse to punish Ms. Barber in response to what she said in that video is understandable as an emotional reaction.”
The letter, signed by Ira Glasser, former executive director of the ACLU, Norman Siegel, ex-New York Civil Liberties Union director, and Michael Meyers, the president and executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition and ex-ACLU executive committee member, also argued that banning offensive speech would lead to a snowball effect.
It added, “the power to ban speech is barred by the First Amendment because it all depends on who is exercising that power, and what he or she finds ‘offensive.'”