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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Being a Black Student on a White Campus

By Rhonesha Byng, HuffingtonPost.com

In an emotional video released earlier this week, students at the UCLA School of Law gathered to share their stories of being among the few black students on campus as part of an awareness campaign simply titled “33.”

According to the video, out of roughly 1,100 students, 33 of them are black, that’s three percent of the school’s student population. Official statistics reveal there are a total of 994 students enrolled getting their Juris Doctor, however, an official from the school says the video’s 1,100 figure likely includes students receiving their LL.M. (Master of Laws). (. . .)

The students expanded upon their feelings of isolation, and feeling like they have to represent their entire community.

“It’s a constant burden of pressure. I’m constantly policing myself, just being aware of what I say and how it can be interpreted because I essentially am the representation of the black community.”

One woman felt she had been automatically characterized as an “angry black woman” after she disagreed with the views of a particular professor and openly vocalized her thoughts.

“The fact that I was a black woman played a lot into why people stopped listening to me. I felt like if there were maybe more black women in the class, maybe just five of us, people could have seen more of a variation in our responses to what was going on in class and what I felt like was sexism in the classroom.” (. . .)

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