I have to interrupt my black erotic series because of reported racial ignorance and foolishness connected to my alma mater, UC San Diego. Seems like some chapter members of the predominately white fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha tried to get their ghetto pass like John Mayer and have been accused of honoring Black History Month by allegedly hosting a "Compton Cookout" party. The fraternity denies involvement. Here's the dress code from the invitation:
For guys: I expect all males to be rockin Jersey's, stuntin' up in ya White T (XXXL smallest size acceptable), anything FUBU, Ecko, Rockawear, High/low top Jordans or Dunks, Chains, Jorts, stunner shades, 59 50 hats, Tats, etc.
For girls: For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks-Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes - they consider Baby Phat to be high class and expensive couture. They also have short, nappy hair, and usually wear cheap weave, usually in bad colors, such as purple or bright red. They look and act similar to Shenaynay, and speak very loudly, while rolling their neck, and waving their finger in your face.
My first thought when I read the Facebook invite was I hoped it wasn't true. However, I'm not surprised. I was one of the 200 black students who made up roughly 1-2% of the student population in the late 90's. And the numbers haven't changed much. Looking back on my experience, stuff like this offensive 'Compton Cookout' isn't new.
My girlfriend from college reminded me of the time another fraternity advertised a rush party and posted flyers on campus of a black man hanging from a noose. The flyer read something like "Don't leave us hanging." People complained and the posts were removed.
Then there was the incident my first year where a half-white, half-Indian guy who lived across the hall from my dorm harassed me for days about teaching him to speak Ebonics.
I didn't know what he was talking about at first. Did he mean the history of Ebonics or a definition of Ebonics? When he saw me in my suite he would say, "Yo, when you go be teaching me Ebonics?" I told him his remarks were offensive but he bugged me for days. I guess he assumed because I was a black girl from Oakland that I knew how to speak "jive." Eventually, I gave him a piece of mind and he stopped.
I got one more for you. Junior year, I took a creative writing class. A student in my critique group was upset with my short story about an interracial couple and wrote racist comments on a copy of my paper. I don't know what he wrote because neither the TA or professor would give me the copy but they said it was bad and had to meet with him.
UC San Diego is a great academic institution and I'm proud of the education I received there. But it can be a tough place for a student of color. The campus is not diverse nor is the city where it's located. La Jolla is one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. It's not the best college town because it's very expensive for students to live. There's not a lot of partying going on in La Jolla because the residents aren't having it. If you see a black person in La Jolla, they're usually not a resident. The more diverse South San Diego is about 25 minutes away. Sucks for you if you don't have a car. There are very few professors of color and many of them don't stay because of the campus climate. I think the school invests so heavily in their math and science programs which is great. But they need to work better at encouraging social activities. The prospective black students who visit the campus often don't choose to attend in the fall because of the lack of diversity. If it weren't for support I received from UCSD's Summer Bridge program and Cross Cultural Center, I don't know if I would have graduated. It's hard being the only one in your classes and people judge your intelligence based of your skin color. Or students think you're collard greens are strange when they've never had them. And don't get me started about the times random white dudes pulled my braids because my hair was so "different" and they just had to touch it. And finding black hair products in La Jolla is like going on a treasure hunt. My mom shipped my hair care supplies from Oakland.
Of course there are positives. UCSD is a beautiful campus located right by the beach. I got a great education for a public school price and was blessed with a lot of grants. My experiences in college made me a stronger person. In a weird away I learned about diversity in a space that lacked it. I definitely have a deeper appreciation for diversity today. I developed friendships from various races, sexualities and economic backgrounds. Also my stellar education prepared me for graduate study and my journalism career.
The Chancellor is reportedly organizing a teach-in but that's not enough. I say find the party planners and attendees. Put them on a bus to Compton since they "want to be down" and think all it takes is to Kool-Aid, Kentucky Fried Chicken and cheap weaves. Take away their cars, internet access and cable. Make them live and volunteer in one of the worst areas of Compton for 2 weeks. But also, expose them to the nice areas in Compton. Make them catch the bus so they can really learn about life in Compton. There are thugs in Compton and there are professionals in Compton. Just like any other city.
The black students I went to school with are now doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, educators, doctoral candidates at Ivy League schools, health advocates, engineers, entrepreneurs, writers and home owners. And most of us grew up in places just like Compton. But think about it. Those privileged kids who took fun in minstrelsy with their gangsters and "ghetto chicks" costumes are the future. They may be your congressman, doctor, or teacher years from now. Scary isn't it?