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    Ellie Kemper Just Responded To Those Resurfaced Photos Of Her Participating In A "Racist And Elitist" Ball

    "I want to apologize to the people I've disappointed."

    Last week, Ellie Kemper found herself at the center of controversy after old photos resurfaced of the actor participating in a beauty pageant that has racist and antisemitic origins.

    Amanda Edwards / Getty Images

    In 1999, a 19-year-old Kemper was crowned the "Veiled Prophet Queen of Love and Beauty" in St. Louis. The Veiled Prophet association was founded by a former Confederate officer, and Black and Jewish people were banned from the organization until the late 1970s.

    Elizabeth Claire Kemper, the 1999 Veiled Prophet Queen of Love and Beauty, speaks with pages Katy Angevine (left), 8, and Jacqueline Probst, 7, before going on stage Thursday night to accept her crown.
    Jamie Rector / St Louis Post-Dispatch / Polaris

    The photos of Kemper in a white dress, as well as images of the hooded "Veiled Prophet," quickly led to KKK comparisons on Twitter, with some dubbing Kemper a "KKK princess."

    Ellie Kemper being a KKK princess is so random that I'm not even sure where to begin with the questions

    Twitter: @_Zeets

    Ellie Kemper the actress who played Erin Hannon on The Office and starred in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has been outed as a KKK Princess.

    Twitter: @HereIsMySpout

    And now, in a statement posted to her Instagram this afternoon, Kemper has addressed the controversy and apologized for participating in the ball.

    "When I was 19 years old, I decided to participate in a debutante ball in my hometown," Kemper wrote to her followers. "The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unquestionably racist, sexist, and elitist past."

    Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

    "I was not aware of this history at the time, but ignorance is no excuse. I was old enough to have educated myself before getting involved."

    @Katchin05 😔 I want her to come out and publicly unclaim it!!

    "I unequivocally deplore, denounce, and reject white supremacy," the statement continued. "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."

    Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images for SiriusXM

    Kemper went on to explain how, when the controversy first began last week, she was tempted to ignore the critics:

    There is a very natural temptation, when you become the subject of internet criticism, to tell yourself that your detractors are getting it all wrong. But at some point last week, I realized that a lot of the forces behind the criticism are forces that I've spent my life supporting and agreeing with.

    "I want to apologize to the people I've disappointed, and I promise that moving forward I will listen, continue to educate myself, and use my privilege in support of the better society I think we're capable of becoming," she concluded.

    Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

    You can read Kemper's full statement in her slideshow below, or on her Instagram.

    For more on the history of the Veiled Prophet Ball, check out BuzzFeed News' reporting.

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