Dear White People is finally out, and my friends, you simply must see it. I knew going into the film that it would be good–honestly, even its promotional art is better than most of the movies I’ve seen this year–but it was really great. All the characters are interesting, all of them have unique points of view, and stereotypes as well as cliches are examined with self-aware wit that is as hilarious as it is pointed.
Here’s the very, very basic gist of the plot: a racist party is being thrown on a campus by a house filed with oblivious, antagonistic rich kids. Instead of the theme being met with anger and outrage, hundreds of people show up. I don’t want to give up the rest of the story (especially because I really want you all to see it), but I will say this: Dear White People wasn’t exaggerating.
Now, if I was ever to write a spinoff of OUAT called Once Upon A Time: The College Years, one of the primary conflicts in the storyline would be that of the Big, Bad Racist Frat Boy. And instead of a grandiose ball that Sororella has to attend in her glass
slippers Uggs, there’s just a Mexican-themed party over at Chi Omega. Does that example of a plot sound oddly specific? That’s because it happened! In fact, Penn State’s Gamma chapter of the Chi Omega sorority actually threw its own “Mexican” party complete with ponchos, sombrerors, and signs implying that all Mexicans are unemployed drug addicts and alcoholics. Yay, college!
The reason I bring this lovely little fiesta up is to prove that Dear White People was absolutely not embellishing or fabricating these types of parties. Plenty of college students–and people, in general–still actively promote the idea that negative stereotypes, racist traditions, and inappropriate reappropriation is totally okay provided it’s in a humorous setting…and done by primarily white people.
So, let’s talk about lots of the racist parties and get togethers college kids have hosted, shall we? Reminder: these were all done in this decade–not two centuries ago.
In order to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity decided to throw a party in which they served watermelon, had guests where oversized basketball jerseys, and took photos while flashing “gang signs.” You know, just your regular ol’ honoring of a civil rights leader. Pro tip: if you are ever in a situation where the humans around you are using hashtags like “#blackoutforMLK,” get out of there.
Oh, but that’s not all: when they were suspended as a fraternity, somebody created a “Save Tau Kappa Episilon” Facebook page, a member of which posted this:
That’s right, blackface! Along with a caption declaring it their “Constitutional rights” being exercised. Because if there’s any right worthy of protection and exercising, it’s totes that one. So brave.
Yep, this really happened: the Lambda Theta Delta fraternity at U.C. Irvine thought putting out a video of its members in blackface. But Nick Cannon did whiteface, we hear the cucumber melon-washed masses cry, so what’s the problem with us doing blackface? All I can say is if you really don’t get it by now, you’re probably not going to get it. And you’re also at least 60% more likely to be on Fox News someday.
As described above, this sorority felt it was totally appropriate to wear what they collectively thought “looked Mexican” while holding signs that said, “signs saying, “will mow lawn for weed & beer” as well as “I don’t cut grass I smoke it.” Merrrrca!
Of all the parties on this list, this one might take the cake for most offensive. From Rad Geek:
Costumes included a hooded and robed Klansman, several white students in blackface, some wearing the shirts of a national Black fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, and one wearing blackface and a noose around his neck. Pictures included posed scenes of lynching and police brutality…
I’m not sure what else I can say about this one besides oh my good god.
(Photo: Phi Sigma Kappa/Facebook)
What better way to honor Native American traditions than a “Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos” party? (I guarantee whomever came up with that name for a party felt so. effing. clever.) For this party, women were told to dress up in sexy Native American garb (i.e. headdresses and leather bikinis) and guys were supposed to dress as Pilgrims–groups that historically always got along so very well.
Daniel, a member of another fraternity, was quoted as saying, “It’s unfair. We are taught that Thanksgiving is Pilgrims and Indians.” Yes, Daniel, it’s unfair to you that you were unable to learn anything beyond what you were taught in the second grade. We apologize for your troubles, and hope you’ll forgive us when you learn that, indeed, the cow cannot actually articulate the word “moo.”
Taco Tuesday is a time to eat tacos and drink margaritas at your favorite dive bar, right? Wrong! According to Alpha Delta Pi, it’s a time to dress up in “sarapes, sombreros and in some cases, gang costumes” because hey, what are Latinos besides–oh, what’s that? One-third of their campus is Latino? And took offense to this insanely offensive lapse in rational thinking?
Click to the next page for the Sexy Border Patrol Party, a Bloods vs. Crips party at an Ivy League school, and the Compton Cookout!
Get it? Because it’s so sexy to dress up as immigrants desperately trying to improve their lives and the lives of their families, as well as police officers violently arresting them. Sexaaaaay ladaaaays.
BTW: Loving the “Dream” Target art on the wall, girls.
Perhaps part of freshman orientation should be a section on “Should My Friends And I Wear Blackface?” Spoiler alert: the answer is always “no.”
Invited students were told by this fraternity to dress up as stereotypical caricatures of Mexicans while other students (dressed as “Americans”) were supposed to “catch” them. Because all Mexicans aren’t legally citizens, etc etc, you get the gist of this theme by now.
The Kappa Sigma fraternity held an Asian-themed party called “Asia Prime” featuring a plethora of lovely stereotypes. In fact, even in the invitation was chocked full of them, as it featured the Team America puppet version of Kim Jong-Il saying, “Herro Nice Duke Peopre.” Great.
In case you’re wondering why the above images are so self-aware, it’s actually because they’re from the Asian Student Association at Duke, who had to protest the party and distribute fliers with images from it in order to get any action taken.
Okay, so this one wasn’t racist, but it was still unbelievably offensive. The women in this sorority actually walked around in torn-up clothing wearing signs with phrases like, “Why lie? It’s for BOOZE. Homeless need $ and prayers” and “Give me a nickel and I’ll tickle your pickle.” You know, because the idea that a homeless person would be so desperate for money that they would resort to prostitution is hilaaaarious. (Note: I do support sex work done by willing participants, but that is clearly not what they were referencing here.) Homelessness isn’t chic or cute or funny; it’s an incredibly painful, dangerous, and difficult to overcome. But hey! Wearing dirty plaid is just totes adorbs, right?
Gang violence is one of the funniest themes ever, right? This “ghetto party” involved just as many stereotypes, “racialized language,” and offensive, er, costumes as you might have imagined. And yet, over 200 students attended. That’s 200 students who got into an incredible school, yet genuinely had no clue that this was offensive. Meet the future leaders of our society, folks.
This is a party people actually threw during Black History Month. Ignoring the fact that they never should have done this whatsoever, it’s just as insulting as #1 on this list that the partygoers genuinely felt the need to make a joke out of a time specifically designated to honor black culture, leaders, and history.