UCLA students protest after partygoers wear blackface at Kanye West-themed frat party

By Veronica Rocha, LA Times

 

Chanting “Black Bruins Matter,” UCLA students crammed into Chancellor Gene Block’s office Thursday, demanding a response for a party described as racist after some students wore blackface to a Kanye West-themed fraternity party.

Holding signs reading, “Our culture is not a costume,” hundreds of students marched on campus days after the party sparked anger over its racial overtones.

Jerry Kang, vice chancellor for UCLA’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, told the crowd he was heartbroken because “black Bruins’ lives matter.” UCLA, he said, is trying to respond and address concerns.

“It’s one thing to suggest you are actually focusing on one celebrity who is African American, it’s another thing to take it as a license to perform every attribute, every stereotype, every grotesque minstrelsy that you see,” he said.

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Students who attended the Tuesday night “Kanye Western” party thrown by Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority wore baggy clothes, dressed like the Kardashians and some wore blackface, the Daily Bruin reported.

After photographs of the party surfaced on social media, students expressed concerns that the organizations’ actions were racist and mocked black culture, reigniting the social media hashtag #BlackBruinsMatter.

Alicia Frison, a student union member, told The Times that a student notified her and other members about the party Tuesday night after photographing some female partygoers who were wearing gold and had soot on their faces. Other female partygoers wore large fake butts and were balancing water bottles like Kim Kardashian did for her infamous Paper magazine photo shoot…

UCLA said it is investigating the party and talking to students.

“We do not yet have all the facts, the alleged behavior is inconsistent with good judgment as well as our principles of community,” UCLA said in a statement. “We remind students that while they are free to celebrate in ways that draw on popular culture, their specific choices can cause harm and pain to fellow members of their community. Put simply: Just because you can do something, does not mean you should.”

Sigma Phi Epsilon’s national office says the UCLA fraternity has temporarily suspended activities as it investigates the incident. UCLA said Alpha Phi sorority’s social activities have also been temporarily suspended…

 

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Room4Debate: Should a Child be Punished for Wearing Blackface?

 From the Huffington Post

Sean King, a Colorado Springs second-grader at Meridian Ranch Elementary school, found himself in hot water last when he was pulled out of class for dressing like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while also wearing black face paint for a school project. Now, Sean and his family want an apology from the school for the way the staff handled the situation.

Sean, 8-years-old, told KRDO that he feels school officials were “mean” to him and his family, citing that they made his mother cry. Sean explained that he is confused why other children who also wore face paint honoring other historical people were not punished like he was. “They were really negative to me,” Sean said about school staff.

School officials are now considering offering special classes about racial stereotypes to help teach kids and parents more about racial sensitivity.

Sean says he mean no harm by wearing the make-up, but Stephanie Meredith, a spokesperson for the school’s principal, said that it wasn’t just the school’s staff that was offended by Sean’s face paint, it was other students as well.

What are your thoughts? Was the principal right to act as she did?

Read more of the story here.