Members of the Afrikan Student Union at UCLA staged a rally at the Westwood campus Thursday to protest a “Kanye Western” fraternity party that some students have criticized as being racially insensitive, with some students apparently wearing blackface.
According to the Daily Bruin, the UCLA student newspaper, the Tuesday night party was thrown by the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority and was quickly disparaged after photos began circulating online of party attendees.
Some photos showed women with padded rear-ends, in an apparent effort to emulate Kanye West’s famous wife, Kim Kardashian.
“Of course, the first thing we see isn’t Kim Kardashian, we see it emulating a woman of color, specifically a black woman,” student Ameinah Thomas told NBC4.
Thomas and other black students took part in the midday protest at the Bruin Bear on the Westwood campus, calling the party racially insensitive. One member of the Afrikan Student Union told the Los Angeles Times she saw a male student wearing blackface at the party.
Other photos showed a group of female students with charcoal on their faces — in possible reference to Kanye West’s song “Gold Digger.”
“I can see the innocence in it being a ‘Kanye Western,’ but emulating black people, white people doing so, is never going to be a good look despite what you may have been trying to do,” Thomas told Channel 4. “I don’t think it’s being blown out of proportion. I can honestly say it may be a differing of perspectives.”
The national chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon has said it is investigating the party, and issued a statement saying it has “zero tolerance for racist behavior.”
Officials at UCLA are also investigating the party.
“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,” according to UCLA. “Put simply: Just because you can do something does not mean you should.”
—City News Service
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