From Pine View Farm

It’s Happened Again 0

Another college party belittling another minority group:

A “South of the Border” theme party has stirred outrage at a Silicon Valley university after students showed up dressed as Hispanic janitors, gardeners, gangbangers and pregnant teens.

Photographs from the private, off-campus party organized by Santa Clara University students in late January appeared on the Internet soon afterward, prompting an outcry on campus.

One image shows a partygoer with a balloon stuffed under her shirt, making her appear pregnant. In another, a woman wears pink rubber cleaning gloves and carries a feather duster.

Last weekend, Annette John-Hall had an excellent column on this sort of stuff for the local rag. She focused on black culture, but her comments can be extended to other areas also.

What (Byron–ed.) Hurt’s film (Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes–ed.) does best, through interviews with established and aspiring MCs, as well as hip-hop scholars, is challenge his own beliefs on manhood and homophobia and provide a vehicle for self-reflection.

“I can’t really listen to hip-hop the same way anymore – the gender and politics in it are just so clear,” the Long Island, N.Y., native tells me. “I still listen to it, but if it ain’t saying nothing, it ain’t about nothing.”

Hurt says the blackface parties represent, at the very least, misguided admiration. But he offers that he’s probably being generous. His gut belief is that they’re a camouflage for racist ridicule.

“On the one hand, black people represent this fantasy to white people,” he says. “We are the epitome of what is cool and hip… . On the other hand, I think it’s deeply problematic that hip-hop culture represents such a reduced notion of black people. There is so much more to black culture, so much more nuance.”

I have a little different take. It is indeed true that some rappers may not represent the highest ideals of our society. Some politicians do not represent the highest ideals of our society. Nor do some athletes. Nor do some business persons (Ken Lay, John Rigas, and Dennis Kozlowski, just to mention a few–and none of them were rappers!). And so on.

The issue is not what is going on in the larger society.

The issue is that the persons who organize and participate it these parties are persons who have no qualms about organizing events designed to belittle members of another racial or ethnic group simply because of their racial or ethnic background.

All the sociology in the world does not give shelter to bigots. And this sort of stuff is the work of bigotry, however good-natured it may appear on the surface.

More to the point, this sort of stuff is just rude.


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