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The Milton Measure

Frat Party’s Racism a Sad Sign

by on Friday, February 22nd, 2013

On Feburary 1st, the Duke University chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity hosted a party deemed, by many media outlets, to be a “Racist Rager”. The gathering, according to Time, was an “Asian-themed party, replete with conical hats, geisha outfits and intentional misspelling.” It exaggerated ethnic stereotypes and portrayed “destructive prejudices” with impunity.

The fraternity initially billed the party as “Asia Prime” and sent out an invitation with intentional spelling errors and stereotypical pronunciations, including “Herro Nice Duke Peopre… We look forward to having Mi, Yu, You and Yo Friends… over for some sake.” When reports of the invitation reached Duke’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, the fraternity was asked to reconsider the event. Instead, the fraternity changed the name of the party to “International Relations” and went ahead with their original plans. About a week after the party, 500 students turned out for a protest against the fraternity. Ting-Ting Zhou, President of the Asian Student Association at Duke University, which led the protest, said that the demonstration was “about the destructive prejudice that must be uprooted from every corner of Duke to make this place an inclusive and safe place for all.” Zhou also pointed out that “these parties are racist because they reflect and recreate power structures that people can be subject to, by simply being Asian.”

A theme party that exaggerates the stereotypes of a race or culture to the point where it is blatantly disrespectful and offensive is unacceptable, particularly at an institution that appears to embrace diversity within its student population, and especially at a university with as sterling a reputation as Duke. The Kappa Sigma fraternity understood this, yet after being warned by the college, held their party anyways. Mocking Asian culture, lifestyles, traditions, and dress not only offends Asians personally, but also Asian culture as a whole, and has the effect of grouping all Asians into these stereotypical categories. While some still contend that this was just a case of “kids being kids,” the fact remains that many found this occurrence highly offensive, as evidenced by the protest that followed.

Racism was at the core of this party. While racism may not have been the intent of the Kappa Sigma’s “International Relations” gathering, the event created hostility and distrust throughout the Duke campus. This party was in poor taste and showed lack of good judgment on the part of the fraternity. The Kappa Sigma members may personally be neither bigoted nor prejudiced, but regardless of their intent or motivation, the party promoted the undermining of Asian cultural values and as a result had clear racist overtones.

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Posted by on Feb 22 2013. Filed under More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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