Racist Campus Climates, Again in California

The San Diego Union-Tribune has an article about a racist “ghetto” party by University of California (San Diego) students off campus:

An invitation to the “Compton Cookout” event urged participants to wear chains, don cheap clothes and speak very loudly, according to wording circulated by outraged students and verified by campus administrators. As a guide for girls attending the event, the invitation read, “For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks — Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes. …”

White students at many colleges and universities have had these “ghetto fabulous” parties in recent years. Clearly, these white students are acting—likely regularly–out of a racist framing of whites as superior, and of African Americans and other Americans of color as odd and inferior. In this case their mocking images of African Americans seem to accent a modest range of rather old stereotypes, and include a reference to a black community in the Los Angeles area (Compton). Their emotions and narratives of superiority are on display here too.

Note too that “Outrage over UCSD Party Mocking Black Culture” is the title of the newspaper article, revealing a white racial framing by the newspaper writer or editors which appears similar to that of the white students. Gold teeth, fighting, cheap clothes seem to be their view too of “black culture.”

The university has so far responded like the racist performances are no big deal. The chancellor does not seem to be taking the racist partying very seriously since she only issued verbal statements saying “we were distressed” at the offensive party and strongly “condemn” it, but her administration has indicated that the university-recognized fraternity connected to the party will receive no sanctions of any kind for its hyper-racist activities. The meek university response includes a call for students and faculty to attend a teach-in in a few days “to explore how such incidents continue to occur today and to discuss the importance of mutual respect and civility.”

A bit slow and meely to the mark, since this is not the first such incident. University administrators seem uninterested in doing anything serious about their racist campuses, such as some required, term-length instruction in the basics of Stereotyping 101, Respect for Others 101, or Racism 101. One faculty member was also quoted in the Union-Tribune story noting there are few black faculty and students on campus, and that the university has had trouble recruiting them because “There’s something about the climate here that drives black students away.”

Indeed, “something” is not so vague, and it does drive the students away: large-scale white racism.

The article writer/editor also seems favorably inclined toward the fraternity since the article concludes by accenting (and quoting a student who graduated named Washom) that the fraternity

is known for having strong athletics, organizing philanthropic events and being diverse. “I never really found someone who wasn’t courteous or respectful of other people,” Washom said. “I couldn’t see someone doing anything deliberately racist.”

Well, I guess now he has seen it? And have the writer and editor?