Members of UC Irvine’s Asian-American fraternity Lambda Theta Delta put their racial ignorance on display last week when they released a video of a student wearing blackface. The college community, which caught wind of the video this week when a YouTube user reuploaded the deleted video, is predictably outraged.
The video includes four Asian-American men dancing to Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie” to promote the spring induction of the fraternity’s new recruits. One man in blackface plays the part of Jay-Z. It is the very definition of bad taste. I watched as much of it as I could stomach and cringed during the worst of it.
With their racist antics LTD is carrying on the long and horrid tradition of campus racism, which is its own genre of racial antagonism. C. Richard King and David Leonard broke down the history of college goers partying in blackface in the pages of Colorlines—in 2007. King and Leonard describe the “ghetto fabulous” parties of yore as a reactionary aggression toward demands for “political correctness”—but what’s going on seems to be just as much the result of endemic racial ignorance.
Such incidents are especially egregious at a campus like UC Irvine, where Asian Americans are 49 percent (PDF) of the undergraduate student population and black students are just 2 percent. Within the University of California network UC Irvine’s has for years been the campus with the highest percentage of Asian-American students.
To their credit, the fraternity issued an actual apology, as opposed to the disingenuous non-apology-apologies that so often follow such offenses."
— Julianne Hing, “UC Irvine Asian-American Frat Awful Blackface Video As bad As It Sounds,” Colorlines 4/25/13