In a statement shared to Instagram on Monday, June 7, the 41-year-old "Bridesmaids" star and "The Office" alum acknowledged participating in the 1999 Veiled Prophet Ball held in her native Missouri--in which she was crowned the "Queen of Love and Beauty"--and decried some of the organization's history.
"Hey guys - when I was 19 years old, I decided to participate in a debutante ball in my hometown," she began her social media statement. "The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unquestionably racist, sexist, and elitist past. I was not aware of this history at that time, but ignorance is no excuse. I was old enough to have educated myself before getting involved." Making her stance clear, she continued, "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."
Kemper also shed some light on how she reacted to the criticism she faced. "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," she wrote. "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." The actress explained that she "strongly" believes in kindness, integrity, and inclusiveness. "I try to live my life in accordance with these values," her statement read. "If my experience is an indication that organizations and institutions with pasts that fall short of these beliefs should be held to account, then I have to see this experience in a positive light." Kemper concluded her message with an apology and further steps she plans to take. "I 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 wrote in closing. "Thanks for reading this."
In response to last week's uproar over Kemper's participation, the Veiled Prophet Organization told E! News in part of a statement, "The VP organization is dedicated to civic progress, economic contributions and charitable causes in St. Louis. 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."
In the statement, the Veiled Prophet organization noted they host "two major free events in St. Louis, including America's Birthday Parade and Fair St. Louis."
"Both events," they said, "reflect the diversity of the St. Louis community and include a wide variety of partners--such as PrideFest and the Annie Malone Parade."
For more on the controversy surrounding Kemper's participation and the organization's history, read E!'s breakdown here.