Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Poor Justifications for Racism 

The Compton Cookout was an off-campus costume-party organized in February at the University of California San Diego to mock Black History Month. The event, advertised through Facebook, urged guests to wear chains, don cheap clothes and speak very loudly. UCSD administrators condemned the party as a “blatant disregard of our campus values,” and students met with administrators to express their concern. As of 2010, African-Americans numbered less than two-percent of the UCSD undergraduate student body, despite recruitment efforts.

NBC San Diego reports that on the 21st of February a second invitation, Compton Cookout Part Deux, was advertised through Facebook. Mike Randazzo, the organizer of Part Deux, tells NBC San Diego that the response to the first Compton Cookout is injudicious: “If your intent is to make fun and not to harm anyone, and you really aren’t trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, then it’s different from trying to cut someone down on purpose.”

"We pretty much want people to just choose a culture and harmlessly poke fun at it. On Cinco de Mayo, we have parties making fun of Mexicans; on Veterans Day, we make fun of veterans; on St. Patrick's Day we make fun of the Irish. I was definitely aware of this risk. I just want people to see that this is not the point of the party. I'm not trying to offend people," he says. "We should all try to be respectful of each other, but we should certainly uphold our rights and uphold the rights of others."

“Everyone gets made fun of out of jest now, not hate,” the invitation reads.

Please! Randazzo presents two justifications for the second party: 1) the stereotyping of everyone in turn is a jest, or at least, is not racist; and 2) racial stereotyping is protected by right. Randazzo does not acknowledge that the first justification veils an impulse to segregation. To argue that it is not racist to stereotype separately but equally is to install a separate-but-equal clause at the heart of the justification. No wonder he resorts to claims of right: the first justification is a contradiction.

Why not let this horse die!

(Sorry to post, but this kind of thing is really upsetting.)


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