Racism and Anti-Racist Protests at U. of California, San Diego

To update Joe’s February 17 entry on racial tensions at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), stemming from a “Compton Cookout” party, students from the UCSD Black Student Union have issued a racial “state of emergency.” About 200 students met with UCSD administrators to present 32 points of demand

As a reaction to the outrage of the racially-themed party, a student organization aired a live segment on closed-circuit television, Koala TV, supporting the “ghetto-themed” party:

After Kris Gregorian, editor in chief of humor newspaper the Koala, said that protestors of last week’s controversial “Compton Cookout” party were “ungrateful niggers” on Channel 18, the Black Student Union declared a “State of Emergency” and issued a six-page list of demands to the university.

According to SignOnSanDiego.com:

Brewing tensions were made worse yesterday morning, when students searching for a copy of the videotape found a piece of cardboard in the student-run television studio with the words “Compton lynching” written on it — an apparent reference to the party, which was billed as the “Compton Cookout.” The discovery was publicized in the middle of the emotional meeting between students and administrators. It prompted tears and repeated outcries from black students, who said they do not feel safe or welcome on campus. African-Americans make up less than 2 percent of undergraduates, a level that has been unchanged for a decade, despite recruitment efforts.

Much of the commentary to these events is focused on “Free Speech”:

Sixth College senior Mike Randazzo is hosting a “Compton Cookout Part Deux: Equal Rights” party on March 4. He is requesting that guests come dressed as their favorite stereotype to promote free speech and show that the intentions of the original Compton Cookout were innocent. Currently, 120 people have RSVPed as attending. “I created this event to get people to understand that the creators meant no ill will,” Randazzo said. “It’s wrong that people are getting outraged and I want to help people come together and put an end to the hatred to show tht [sic] UCSD is not a racist place.”

Apparently this student believes that equal opportunity stereotyping is the solution to racial problems; he obviously has no comprehension of the legacy of and contemporary consequences of the racial hierarchy.

One student from the Black Student Union stated:

“I’m not saying that they don’t have the right to freedom of speech, but where’s my right to be protected from that?” …“I am a student in your class, and I have to sit next to these racist kids. What kind of college is this?”

Unfortunately, this is a question that needs to be addressed on many college campuses.


  1. Joe

    thanks, Leslie. Very good post. It shows the impact on people of color, and the racist framing of “educated” young whites who are supposed to be post-racial. What they hate most is to be called out on their racism. They often do not even consider apologizing, but get more aggressively racist.

  2. marandaNJ

    In the above post a black student wrote:“I’m not saying that they don’t have the right to freedom of speech, but where’s my right to be protected from that?” …“I am a student in your class, and I have to sit next to these racist kids. What kind of college is this?”
    First of all, as Tim stated earlier, having a festival whose main objective is to ridicule another race does Not fall under the category of free speech. No message of import was being transmitted by these students, it was simply to demean and laugh at another race.
    Secondly, this is humiliating for the black students to have to attend classes next to the people who participated in the party. Not to mention, if the college doesn’t take steps to discipline the participants, the black students will inevitably wonder, “Who else on this campus feels this way, but just isn’t verbalizing it?”
    I myself was treated in a demeaning fashion when I was growing up just because I was a Catholic. I’m not in any way comparing this to being black, but just saying I know what it’s like to be made to feel miserable because of a situation [race, creed, sexual preference] for things in your life you can’t control. It’s cruel intolerance and doesn’t have any place in a society supposedly based on our “inalienable rights” as stated by the Constitution.

  3. In this situation, I am of two minds. On one hand, I personally believe racism is wrong and would discriminate myself. On the other hand, if someone else wants to be racist, I don’t see why my beliefs are above their beliefs. Some things are concrete and have a right or wrong answer, but racism is not as black and white(no pun intended). If someone wants to be racist, is it right for me to tell them their opinion is wrong?

    In this case however, racism isnt just name calling, but its denying deserving people an education. So when one person’s rights infringe upon another person’s rights, that is when it is wrong.

  4. Hillbilly

    The administration froze the funding of all 33 media outlets at UCSD, including The Koala. One of the conservative groups on campus, the California Review, said that the administration is “overreacting” to the racist incident and the university is trying to limit free speech.

    The administrators created a website (battlehate.ucsd.edu) that is supposed to help address the racial tension on campus.

    The news story can be found here: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/feb/23/ucsd-media-outlets-see-funds-frozen/

    What is interesting is the comments that are popping up on the story. “People need to grow thick skin.” The students complaining about the racist incident are “self-righteous” and just want to harp about race. One self-declared 30-year-old white male born in 1980 and raised in Balitmore said that there hasn’t really been any “hardcore racial issues in this country” for a while. There’s a comment where a dad complains about immigrant students keeping his son out of the classes he needs and get lower tuition rates…

    I’ve seen many of these comments, and much worse, on my own university’s student newspaper website. When some event is promoted for one of the international student groups on campus, or one of the professors writes about the importance of remembering black history all year, not just for a month, students use the web comments as way for them to spread hate speech with anonymous posts. There’s been a big controversy about the student newspaper allowing anonymous posts because of the increase in the level of racist statements that have been showing up over the past year.

    Jessie, is there a specific resource that describes the limitations of hate speech going around as “free speech” on the net that you can refer me to?

  5. Hillbilly

    I was surfing the news yesterday and found this story about the continuing racist actions at UCSD: http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/02/26/california.noose/index.html

    Basically, sometime Thursday evening a noose was found in the library of UCSD. A student admitted she hung the noose and has been suspended. The student obviously thought about what she was doing as the noose was hung in an aisle on the seventh floor of the library where it could be easily seen through the windows.

  6. Hillbilly

    Well, the past two days I have found myself stumbling across more news out of San Diego. Yesterday, the student paper at UCSD published a “verified” letter from a “minority student” who said they were the person who left the noose in the library after “finding some rope” on campus and playing with it. The letter left more questions than answers and some are questioning whether the letter was planted in the paper to fan the flames.

    This lovely morning I came across this news story: http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/general/03-02incident.asp. Basically, someone made a KKK hood out of a pillowcase and left in a place to be found. With this occurring almost daily now, my question is: what’s next?


  1. Are the Racist Incidents on Campus Done by “Outliers”? :: racismreview.com

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