Actress Eli Kemper apologized for participating in a controversial ball when she was 19 years old. Pictures of Kemper at the veiled prophet’s ball recently surfaced on social media, and people were quick to criticize St. Louis’ racist past and ties to white supremacy.
“The century-old organization that hosted the debut ball had a clear racist, sexist and elitist past,” Kemper said in a statement posted on Instagram on Monday. “I wasn’t aware of this story at the time, but ignorance was no excuse. I was old enough to be educated before getting involved.”
Kemper, best known for her comedic roles in The Office and the Netflix series Unstoppable Kimi Schmidt, was outraged on social media when users recently raised her participation in the ball. Kemper was crowned “Queen of Love and Beauty” at the event in 1999, which was touted as a debut party, combined with the spirit of the Mardi Gras parade.
Twitter users shared the group’s history in St. Louis, including the fact that it had no black members until 1979, according to a St. Louis post-dispatcher. According to a 2014 Atlantic article, the secret society was originally created “in response to the growing labor unrest in the city, much of which involves cooperation between white and black workers” and was intended to use heavy symbols to remind both the lower and upper class of people where they stood.
While the Veiled Prophet’s Organization was not affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan, some on social media began calling Kemper a “KKK princess” as an image claiming to show an illustration of the first veiled prophet of its kind, strongly resembling the clothes and hood of the clan.
In his statement, Kemper “unequivocally” condemned the supremacy of whites, but acknowledged that he was part of a system of white privileges.
“It’s only natural to be tempted to criticize the Internet to tell yourself that your detractors misunderstand,” Kemper wrote. “But at some point last week, I realized that much of the force behind criticism is a force with which I have spent my life in support and consent. If my experience is an indication that organizations and institutions with a past that fail beliefs must be held accountable, then I must see this experience in a positive light. ”
Kemper apologized to “all the people I’ve disappointed” and said that in the future she would “listen, continue to educate herself and use my privilege to support the better society we think we can become.” .