A story out of Clemson, South Carolina from The State: Clemson University President James Barker on Tuesday decried a party where white students mocked black stereotypes by drinking malt liquor and at least one student dressed in black face.
"I was appalled, angered and disappointed when I learned that a group of Clemson students participated in activities at an off-campus party that appeared to mock and disparage African Americans," Barker said. "Many people have been offended and deeply hurt."
Well, it does suck that people were offended by a stupid joke. I can see both sides of the fence here: on the one hand you have a group of kids who thought it would be funny to act out the stupid stereotypes they see on TV. Gold teeth, 40s, baggy jeans and 'fros can be funny on certain people -- white people. That the kids picked Martin Luther King Day for their party is in poor taste, but I don't see racism here.
I can also see why black students and community leaders would be offended by this, too. As one guest on Paula Zahn tonight said, "humor is meant to be shared, these kids had their party off campus and didn't invite any black people." The logic here of course being that if you can't make fun of someone to their face you can't do it at all. And I support that -- if you call me David the Fag to my face I'll laugh; call me David the Fag behind my back and it's a whole other story.
Nowhere is the racial divide more palpable than in our nation's colleges and universities. Even at progressive, multi-cultural Boston University, my alma mater, I would often find myself being the only person of color in my classes. It didn't matter much to me, but I was definitely aware of the fact that I was in a minority. I can only imagine how these perceived differences can turn into dangerous schisms in the south.
But on the other hand, stereotypes wouldn't be funny if they weren't true. Just check out my new fav video by Lil Scrappy, Rock Yo' Hips, set appropriately in a lush college campus. These white kids got the inspiration for their costumes somewhere, and this video is a good place to start.
No one is really wrong here, just grossly insensitive and misinformed. Now, the white kids are going to have to go through the Michael Richards sensitivity program sponsored by the NAACP, but maybe it's time for the Hip Hop community to look at the message its broadcasting about black America.