Thursday, December 9, 2010

Compton Cookout

It’s not a new idea that college parties are not always completely politically correct. It is also not rare that fraternities are found hosting controversially themes parties. However, one instance of a poorly planned party theme at the University of California in San Diego turned into a campus wide, and later a national, uproar.

In a NPR article entitled “How Far Have We Come?”, it is stated that members of a fraternity at UCSD decided they would celebrate Black History Month last February by hosting a “Compton Cookout”. They told the attendants to go all out in their most “ghetto fabulous” gear and, for girls, they posted these offensive instructions: “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.” The party planners are clearly negatively stereotyping African Americans in this description, making the party planners seem ignorant and unintelligent. A female African American student responded to the description by stating that “the part where it talks about black women…that's not what I am." It was also stated that some at the party used black face. However, those racist remarks and the actual party were not the extent of this issue. Administrators at UCSD got involved, questioning members of the fraternity on these accusations of racism. The party planners stated that the students that initially complained about the party were a group of "ungrateful niggers". Later that week, nooses were found in various places all over the UCSD campus, along with a Ku Klux Klan-like hood atop a statue.

Later in the article, the author questions how far America has truly come in terms of racism in society. One attendant of the party, an African American man, stated that the reason the party was not racist was the fact that no one was “beat up”. Is that the only difference between racism today and racism during the Civil Rights Movement? Do some Americans today have the same mindset of that time but refrain from the physical abuse? Before the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans were stereotyped and thought to be of less worth than white Americans. Americans today are clearly still stereotyping and being hostile, so how far have we truly come?



  1. The really appalling part of the whole thing was the description of black women that these people put up. I have heard of a bunch of parties that have a kind of ghetto/hip hop theme and while these could be potentially offensive, they’re usually pretty innocent in nature. This instance on the other hand is pretty unacceptable in the fact that they don’t even try to hide their racist intentions. We never tend to think of California as being particularly racist, but this provides yet another example of racism outside of the south.

  2. I actually heard about this right around the time it happened. Many of my friends in California got together to protest the event, but (as far as I know) I don't think the fraternity members received any type of serious punishment from the school. Another sad thing is that the racism problem at UCSD isn't going to get much better any time soon since this event makes it harder to get more minorities and other open-minded students to enroll. I used to know a couple of kids who actually were from Compton. To them it was just a neighborhood with a lot of normal, good people, and the super-ghetto gang warzone stereotype is blown way out of proportion. And the guy who said the event wasn't racist because nobody was beat up either just has no clue or is trying to protect his friends/school.

  3. I think it's pretty terrible that anyone would try and 'celebrate' Black History Month by having people dress up like this and not only further stereotypes, but the descriptions of African American women are just horrible. This is in no way celebrating African American history but simply making a mockery of it. The fraternity brothers should have been punished much more by the school and the national fraternity should have come down hard on this chapter for doing what they did. We have come a long way as far as racism goes, but there are still some people out there, such as these people, who make us wonder if we can ever live without prejudice or racism.

  4. Being an African American female, my initial reaction to this article was one of disbelief, hurt, and anger. With the year being 2011, I possessed a sense of optimism regarding the institution of racism. Although I knew it still existed in some form, I didn't know it existed to this horrendous extent. I agree that the fraternity should have been disciplined but the lack of repercussions also shows the extent of the existence of racism. Yes, I agree that African Americans have come along way but we still have a longer way to go.