Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Wider View Of A ‘Racist Idea’

A Wider View Of A ‘Racist Idea’

At the University of California San Diego (UCSD), a number of their fraternity members obviously went to college to perpetuate ignorance, racism and their own inflated sense of privilege.

Last week, it came to light that a number of UCSD fraternities organized an event in “honor” of black history month called “The Compton Cookout.” With an invitation via Facebook, party attendees were encouraged to wear FUBU, gold chains, sport ‘short nappy hair’ and talk real loud, amongst other blatantly obnoxious and racist party suggestions.

UCSD’s administration has condemned the party and a university investigation was launched to determine if disciplinary measures were in order.

A “teach in” organized by the school was walked out on by several hundred students who continue to protest the lack of action on the event. Given that African-American students only make up 1.3 percent of the undergraduate population at UCSD, yet were the targets of this racist event, they have reason to be not just angered at the administration, but legitimately alarmed about their safety.

The “Compton Cookout” was a racist idea, especially given that it was to mock black history month. But as the nation watches this event unfold we need to view this in a wider context. Racist-themed parties thrown by white students – especially majority-white fraternities – are not new. Every few years, pictures or flyers surface showing such events were being held, sometimes right on campus property. In 2007, it was the “Cholo / Ghetto Mexican Party” at UT Austin. At Duke University, there were ‘slave parties’ where fraternity pledges dressed like black slaves to serve frat members and their girlfriends. And every Halloween there is at least one race- laden “Pimps and Ho’s” party on a college campus that ends up with pictures on Facebook.

The problem is that while this used to just be racist parties, the level of violence against minority students on campus has been on the rise in recent years. Whether because of the War in Iraq or the election of Barack Obama, it’s been open season on minority students on college campuses, and if the administration at UCSD doesn’t take a stronger stand on this party the next campus event might not be so benign.

Look at Hocking College in Ohio, where racist graffiti threatened a mass killing of all African-American students on campus on February 2nd. Or the two-year-old UMass Amherst case where two white non-students men gained entry into a dorm and attacked student Jason Vassell in the dorm lobby, breaking his nose. And this after peppering Vassell with racial taunts from outside his window. In the altercation, Vassell stabbed both men with his pocketknife. He’s being charged with attempted murder and the two men got off with fines for breaking and entering.

The Web site Loop21 offers a quick guide to over 15 events, including assaults, graffiti and violence against minority students in the last three years alone. And those are the reported events. Colleges and universities have a bad habit of sweeping such events under the rug because they’re more concerned about the school’s reputation than the safety of African-American students.

University systems need to take a long hard look at their campus handbooks regarding events of a racial or ethnic nature on campus. While students should have the freedom to engage in whatever obnoxious or racist behavior they’d like to off campus, if they use any university resources to do so, even the campus server, or any campus leaders are known to have helped organize or facilitate the event, a college has a moral and safety obligation to lower the hammer on those students as swiftly as possible. It may start with a harmless party, but events like this can spiral into campus wide violence against minority students in an instant.

I know we’d all like to think that the college experience will be like “A Different World,” but if administrations don’t start getting more vigilant they might start looking more like the final scene of “Higher Learning.”

(Dr. Jason Johnson is an associate professor of political science and communications at Hiram College in Ohio, where he teaches courses in campaigns and elections, pop culture, and the politics of sports. He can be reached at johnsonja@hiram.edu.)

see also...
UCSD Frat Denies Involvement In 'Racist Ghetto-Themed' Party


Montana said...

1) UCSD: A group of dumb white frat guys hold an event called a “Compton Cookout.” This pisses people off as it used Black History Month as a reason to mock black people with racist stereotypes. Also involved is some idiot who tries to use this opportunity for shameless self-promotion, who also happens to be black. To say the least, the guy is basically a wannabe Flavor Flav.

(2) UCSD: Another dumb white frat guy gets mad that blacks are offended of being relegated to a bigoted stereotype. He tries to hold another racist event.

(3) UCSD: Meanwhile, a terrible student media publication (which, after viewing their website consists of all white staff, nudity, staff wrestling each other, and well, not much else), pushes their limits calling black students “ungrateful n—-” – not just that word, but also that apparently the black students owed them something. They have a reputation of being trashy, and at this point, administration and faculty rush to condemn racism by students of the campus and various protests begin. Funding is also cut from all student media at UCSD, creating an extra bitter controversy.

(4) UCSD: On Friday of that week, a noose is found in the library. Everything gets worked in a frenzy and – something I’ll address later – a large amount of white commenter’s on the internet begin claiming that is was probably a black student who planted it in order to gain more sympathy. In addition, there are rumors of a threatening note sent to the Guardian and a second noose, there was no second noose, and the threat seems to be just a rumor.

(5) UCSD: Protests basically happen at all schools in support of the students. There are various sit-ins, and teach-ins, and what have you. School administrators become pushed to be more active in fixing what’s going on.

I have not seen this noose person, but most of you blame her and conveniently forget wear this all originated.

Instead of an apology there has been steady escalation and now the noose. So, what exactly will the excuses be for this cowardly act that brings up memories of the confederate KKK of the South in their attempts to keep slavery and the non-whites in fear? Is it that are uneducated, is it that their parents planted these seeds of hate, is it that they are live in fear because our President in the white house is not 100% white. In my opinion this is what the small portions of the republican party of “birthers, baggers and blowhards” have brought you. These kids are good at “Follow the Leader” of their dullard leaders, they listen to Beck, Hedgecock, Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush and Savage and the rest of the Blowhards, they are young and dumb. Are you surprise at what they do when you know what they think? The world is complicated and most republicans (Hamiliton, Lincoln, Roosevelt) believe that we should use government a little to increase social mobility, now its about dancing around the claim of government is the problem. The sainted Reagan passed the biggest tax increase in American history and as a result federal employment increased, but facts are lost when mired in mysticism and superstition. Although most republicans are trying to distant themselves from this fringe they have a long way to go.

Preston said...


Not one day in anyone's life is an uneventful day, no day without profound meaning, no matter how dull and boring it might seem, no matter whether you are a seamstress or a queen, a shoeshine boy or a movie star, a renowned philosopher or a Down's syndrome child.

Because in every day of your life, there are opportunities to perform little kindnesses for others, both by conscious acts of will and unconscious example.

Each smallest act of kindness - even just words of hope when they are needed, the remembrance of a birthday, a compliment that engenders a smile - reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it's passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away.

Likewise, each small meanness, each thoughtless expression of hatred, each envious and bitter act, regardless of how petty, can inspire others, and is therefore the seed that ultimately produces evil fruit, poisoning people whom you have never met and never will.

All human lives are so profoundly and intricately entwined - those dead, those living, those generations yet to come - that the fate of all is the fate of each, and the hope of humanity rests in every heart and in every pair of hands.

Therefore, after every failure, we are obliged to strive again for success, and when faced with the end of one thing, we must build something new and better in the ashes, just as from pain and grief, we must weave hope, for each of us is a thread critical to the strength - the very survival - of the human tapestry.

Every hour in every life contains such often-unrecognized potential to affect the world that the great days for which we, in our dissatisfaction, so often yearn are already with us; all great days and thrilling possibilities are combined always in THIS MOMENTOUS DAY!

Excerpt from Dean Koontz's book, "From the Corner of His Eye".

It embodies the idea of how the smallest of acts can have such a profound effect on each of our lives.