After coming under recent fire for her involvement in a debutante ball when she was a teenager, Ellie Kemper (The Office) has apologized via Instagram to her fans, according to CNN. The actress was crowned the “Queen of Love and Beauty” at the Veiled Prophet Ball in 1999 by the organization, which was founded in 1878 by former Confederate officers. A photo of Kemper at the debutante ball resurfaced on Twitter last week.
Kemper addressed the situation on Monday in a multi-part Instagram post, stating, “When I was 19 years old, I decided to participate in a debutante ball in my hometown. The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unquestionably racist, sexist and elitist past. I was not aware of the history at the time, but ignorance is no excuse. I was old enough to have educated myself before getting involved. I unequivocally deplore, denounce, and reject white supremacy. At the same time, I acknowledge that because of my race and my privilege, I am the beneficiary of a system that has dispensed unequal justice and unequal rewards,” via CNN.
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Despite the evident racist and sexist origins that debutante balls maintained, they are still taking place today, more than 20 years later. The organization released its own statement last week, “Our organization believes in and promotes inclusion, diversity and equality for this region. We absolutely reject racism and have never partnered or associated with any organization that harbors these beliefs,” via CNN.