Kanye West did not drop three entire college themed albums for this to happen! The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority at the University of California, Los Angeles held a “Kanye Western” themed party on Tuesday night. Party goers were seen wearing baggy clothing, fake rear-ends, plumped lips to nail the perfect Kardashian look and some even dawned blackface. Subsequently, several students found the get-together not only an act of racism, but appropriative of black culture. With signs reading, “Our culture is not a costume,” and generating the hashtag #BlackBruinsMatter, hundreds of students marched on campus and rallied following the incidents of the party, hoping to receive a response from the school.
The university issued a statement about the party, saying they were looking further into the incident. “We remind students that while they are free to celebrate in ways that draw on popular culture, their specific choices can cause harm and pain to fellow members of their community.”
Alicia Frison, a black student union member at UCLA expressed that “the issue isn’t simply about putting on blackface, it is also about the entire mockery of black culture,” as expressed to LA Focus Newspaper.
In defense of their actions, Sigma Phi Epsilon commented on their Facebook page, “A Kanye Western-themed party was intended to celebrate pop culture. We realize that the theme showed a lack of judgment on our part and that some of the guests’ costumes were offensive to members of the Bruin community. We want our campus community to know that they can expect better from this fraternity.”
But all too often, cases like this can be seen not only at UCLA, but are common at colleges around the country. Remember earlier this year when Sigma Alpha Epsilon members at the University of Oklahoma were caught on video singing a racist song and holding blackface parties? It’s apparent that an unfortunate pattern is occurring within collegiate Greek life, and more conscientious consideration is needed when establishing rituals and going through party themes. So, Dear UCLA and other universities alike, here are some ways to throw a Kanye West themed party and NOT be racist:
- Have party-goers dress up as bears as they jam to Kanye’s classic debut album: The College Dropout.
- Block the haters and throw on your “stunna shades”.
- In true Kanye fashion, no matter how hype the party gets, don’t crack a smile!
- Got a couple of thousand dollars to spare? Show off with some new Yeezy Season 2 gear.
- Thinking of joining politics? No better way to start than with practicing your impromptu presidential speeches that at a party with frat brothers and sorority sisters. As with Kanye, it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
As UCLA officials put, “Just because you can do something does not mean you should.” And just because dressing up as a thug and testing out Ebonics may seem cool doesn’t mean it’s appropriate. And when in doubt, just think, “What would Mr. West do?”