UCLA students wear blackface to 'Kanye Western'-themed frat party during black student welcome week
The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority threw a “Kanye Western”-themed party Tuesday, in which partygoers dressed in forms of blackface to fit the theme.
According to the Daily Bruin, once pictures of the party began to emerge on social media, students were outraged by the actions of their classmates, with many pointing out the demeaning and racial nature of several pictures. The controversial party also took play during Black Bruins Welcome Week, which includes panels, workshops and events for African-American students.
The Afrikan Student Union is meeting today to discuss the incident and has urged students to wear black. On social media, the outrage has reignited the hashtag #BlackBruinsMatter.
“Yes that’s right, a frat decided it would be okay to have their members repeat a part of history that demoralized, mocked and dehumanized African Americans/ And celebrate while doing it,” student Hanan Worku wrote, in part, on Facebook. “They showed up with their chains and braids with stuffed butts for God knows what reason. True Bruin values amiright????!!!!! Not to mention all of this happened last night which happened to be a part of Black Bruin Welcome Week! Coincidence right??????”
Sigma Phi Epsilon’s national office, meanwhile, says it has temporarily suspended activities for the UCLA fraternity.
“Building diverse and inclusive communities is core to our identity as an organization, and we have zero tolerance for racist behavior,” the organization’s spokesman, Beaux Carriere, said in a statement. “Sigma Phi Epsilon will continue to work with the university and UCLA community to investigate these claims and hold students accountable for any inappropriate behavior.”
The university released the following statement to NBC Los Angeles:
We are concerned about these allegations and earnestly working to gather information about what occurred, talking to all those involved. While we do not yet have all the facts, the alleged behavior is inconsistent with good judgment as well as our principles of community. 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. Put simply: Just because you can do something does not mean you should.