Submission: Afrikan Student Union should focus on problems within black community
By Daily Bruin Staff
Oct. 12, 2015 1:50 a.m.
There has been controversy over the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority “Kanye Western” themed party. The party allegedly promoted racism and cultural appropriation, with people dressed up in “baggy clothes, plumped lips and padded bottoms.” Although this party may have been mildly inappropriate, the way the Afrikan Student Union has reacted is absolutely outlandish and ignorant. If any other race had dressed up as pop culture figures from other ethnic groups, there would absolutely not be this much uproar about it.
Let me start off with the “plumped lips and padded bottoms” imitating Kim Kardashian. As someone who is Armenian, I am not offended by this in any way. This is not a representation of my entire Armenian culture. It is merely a representation of Kim’s pop culture status that include her iconic “assets.” The same goes for Kanye West. He is known to wear some pretty bold outfits that include baggy pants and shirts. Again, this outfit is not targeting the entire African American population, it is specifically targeting Kanye West’s iconic pop culture status. From the pictures that I have seen, the only black coloring on people’s faces was around the mouth, imitating Kanye West’s facial hair, and the soot to look like the infamous “gold digger,” which again, is not generalizing the entire African American population.
Like I stated before, this party was mildly inappropriate. However, these people have the right to dress and act the way they want to, because as upsetting as it may be to some people, the U.S. Constitution protects their freedom of expression in the First Amendment. The only time that it is really appropriate to act upon someone’s actions or words is if the person in question directly threatens another person. In this case, the “Kanye Western” themed party did not directly threaten anyone’s safety. The only thing it did was make people feel “triggered.”
To the people who felt “triggered”: How would you plan on implementing an action or policy that would actually suppress people’s freedom of expression? Your group is promoting a phenomenon called cultural Marxism: an ideology which emphasizes culture as a main cause of inequalities. You are pitting people against each other based on the color of their skin, by scapegoating the “white cis-gendered” male or female, which is only causing more dissension between certain races. The truth is the majority of non-African American individuals do not discriminate and do not have a reason to discriminate against African Americans, especially in this day and age. The instances of white on black crime or racism are rare and the only reason we tend to hear about them more in the media is due to the availability heuristic: a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a given person’s mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or decision.
Which leads me to my next question. Why are you constantly targeting these rare scenarios and supposed microaggressions when there is rampant black on black violence? The fact is there are definitely issues with the African American community, but it is not discrimination between different races, it is within the African American community itself.
In 2013, Northeastern University criminology Professor James Alan Fox performed a study using adjusted FBI crime data from 2010-2013 (to estimate the number of murders where race between the assailant and the victim were not given). Fox found that about 92 percent of African Americans who were murdered were killed by other African Americans. The rate of white on white crime is almost as high at 81.5 percent. Fox also found that the percentage of homicides between the race lines has increased from 8 percent to 13 percent. This is not necessarily because of racial hostility but due to the fact that over the past decades there has been less segregation between races in neighborhoods and in everyday activities.
Even further analysis of the FBI’s bureau of statistics data for 2013 shows that 14 percent of white victims were killed by black offenders, and 7.6 percent of black victims were killed by white offenders.
They also found that black criminals carried out 38 percent of murders, compared to 31.1 percent for whites. Furthermore, over the last three years of data – 2011 to 2013 – 38.5 percent of people arrested for murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault were black. Therefore the ratio of African Americans that commit murders to the number of African Americans arrested for certain crimes is almost exactly proportional. One can conclude that these statistics disprove that racism is not something that is prevalent and encouraged in this country, much less UCLA. What these numbers do show is that there is a startling amount of violence inside the African American community that needs to be dealt with, by using groups like the Afrikan Student Union to perform community outreach.
In essence, the point that I am trying to get across is that focusing on a mildly inappropriate frat party is closed-minded when looking at the broader spectrum of racial issues. It is also offensive to people who have actually been victims of severe, violent racism. As a student at UCLA who is concerned with racial matters, I ask the Afrikan Student Union to use their voice and their standing within the community to address issues that are more prevalent, like the quality of education and the proliferating rates of crime within the African American community. Use your group platform to go and help the future African American generation succeed. Encourage children to get an education and avoid crime. But most of all, help them be proud of who they are inside and out.
Kachadoorian is a first-year psychobiology student.