I haven’t written up a post in awhile, mostly because I haven’t had much time. But, I thought that I’d write this evening, a response to recent happenings here at UCSD and the community we live in. I will put my own opinions, and only of what I know, but this is not to place blame on anyone or to point fingers, because really, at this point, I don’t know anymore than the person next to me.
Over the President’s Day/Valentine’s Day Weekend, a racially themed party was thrown off-campus by individuals. This event was publicized on Facebook and was branded, “Compton Cookout”. The party was described mockingly as being in honor of Black History Month and had descriptions of how guys should be dressed, how girls should be dressed and act like “Ghetto Chicks” (and yes, this is off Urban Dictionary), and that beer, food, and watermelon would be served. That is the basic gist of the entire thing.
After the weekend was over, all hell kind of broke loose on campus. But, I really believe it is needed. And, here is why.
Regardless if some Greek Fraternities were in fact named and are now being blamed for such a distasteful and themed party, it doesn’t matter personally to me at this point (if it was a Greek Fraternity or other random people). What matters to me is that anyone would want to do this at all, Greek or Non-Greek. And, this is not the first time I am being pissed about this myself. Let me explain.
If you are a Senior at UCSD now, you may remember Warren College (I believe) wanted to do an “asian” themed semiformal and they got heat for it. They ended up changing the name and redoing everything. Problem solved. Or, was it really?
I think there are so many racially themed parties, events, fundraisers, etc. that are thrown day after day, and no one says anything. It may take such an extreme, media hungry, explosion of events like the one that happened last weekend to occur, but really, I’m glad it did. We need dialogue, discourse, disagreement, anger, emotion, activism, politics, civic engagement, community, and a voice to make change.
I hear a lot of people, even friends, say that they are sick of getting emails about the party and the university’s response to everything, but I think it’s needed. For once, I feel like people care about something, on either side. I feel like people are not able to voice what we knew all along: the UC system is not as diverse as we think it is. Yes, may seem diverse, but when you look at the numbers, it is really the individually niches we see that are diverse. As a whole, not so much.
I hope I’m not offending anyone when I say this, but to understand even the slightest how the African-American/Black Community feel right now, you need to now someone who is in that community. I, being a Thai-American/Asian American, would never understand even the tip of the iceberg if it were not for the extreme diverse situations I have grown up in from birth up until now. When I came into college, I entered the OASIS Summer Bridge Program that placed me in one of the most diverse living situations and learning conditions I have ever been in in my life, hands down!
I am proud to say that I know a ton more of the people of the African/Black community here at UCSD than a lot of people do, and that both amazes me and angers me.
I hear out my friends who have talked about their own feelings of isolation or stereotypes over the years here at UCSD, and now, it is front center stage! It is more public then ever, and something needs to be done to resolve these complicated, systemic issues of racism, discrimination, and segregation.
Last night at my Alternative Breaks Tennessee Meeting, we all were able to discuss our feelings and thoughts about the current events in the form of a reflection. I felt like it was a very productive reflection, and that both sides were equally presented and brought to the table. I agree that the only remedy to extreme forms of speech is more speech. I strongly support that both sides of the argument get the chance to speak, and that it is the only way to learn something from this.
The argument seems to go in a circle at some point, and everyone has some conflicting view or picky view on what has been happening, but I think this is what college is about and that really, we use this to move forward in campus climate, demands for diversity, and simply openness.
It really does sadden me that a small set of people can make an entire campus look bad, but that is the reality of life. So the big takeaway and learning moment for me is that one thing can mean a big thing, and that a small set of people really can either move us backwards socially, or move us forward! We can really do the opposite and have a small set of people inspire change.
The big question for everyone is, “What can we as individual students do now to learn from these events, improve campus climate, and ensure things like this do not happen again?”
For now, these are my thoughts on everything that has been happening.