USC students protest UCSD party, response


Students from the USC Save Our Selves Coalition and other groups within the Black Student Assembly held a silent protest Thursday in response to what they feel were racist incidents at UC San Diego.

Speak out · Najee Ritter, a sophomore majoring in theatre, served as the spokesperson for members of the Black Student Assembly as they protested the “Compton Cookout” and UCSD’s handling of the incident near Tommy Trojan on Thursday. - Hide Kurokawa | Daily Trojan

Members of SOS — an organization that holds forums to discuss issues facing the black community — demonstrated by Tommy Trojan on Thursday, protesting a UCSD fraternity-organized party called “Compton Cookout.”

Held during Black History Month, the “Compton Cookout” was a “ghetto-themed” party that encouraged attendees to come dressed for “life in the ghetto.” A Facebook invitation specifically said that women should come dressed as “ghetto chicks“ who “usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes.”

Many have said the event was a clear example of perpetuating offensive racial stereotypes, and the USC demonstrators said they thought it dehumanized their race. Members of SOS were also dissatisfied with the university’s response.

“The acts of hatred that were targeted specifically last week toward African-Americans actually have been an ongoing event on UCSD’s campus, and the administration does not support the students there,” said Najee Ritter, a sophomore majoring in theatre who served as the group’s spokesperson.

The protest began with about 30 students lined up in front of Tommy Trojan. The demonstration quickly attracted a crowd and grew to include about 100 participants in less than an hour.

“We want to let the University of California system as a whole know that it’s unacceptable to allow funding to programs that perpetuate discrimination against any type of minority group,” Ritter said. “We are trying to stand symbolically in solidarity with those people, with the students [at UCSD], to let them know that their struggle, is also our struggle and their pain is also our pain.”

Demonstrators stand in silence, mouths covered with duct tape, to protest the treatment of minority students, specifically black students, at UC San Diego last week. - Daily Trojan | Leah Thompson

Participants dressed in all black to represent “a unified body of marginalized individuals forced to suffer from hostile learning environments and administrative neglect,” Ritter said of the group’s planned attire. The participants also sported green and red armbands, colors traditionally associated with African pride. Many wore duct tape covering their mouths.

“It will represent both people who feel that they can’t voice their opinion or speak out when things happen to them. They may feel that they don’t have a venue in which to let these issues or concerns out,” said SOS Secretary Avia Wilkerson, a sophomore majoring in neuroscience. “At the same time, it can also represent people who see these things happening and don’t do anything about it — basically, people who are being silenced or who are being silent.”

The students were protesting not only UCSD’s “Compton Cookout” but also a racial divide they say is perpetuated by administrative inaction.

“We are silenced when we allow the University of California to use our tax dollars to fund discriminatory publication on our campuses,” Ritter said of UCSD’s The Koala online at the protest. “We are silenced when a public institution of 29,000 students only has 1.3 percent African-Americans. We are silenced when we feel targeted on our campuses, and the university ignores the sentiment of our concerns. We, the students of USC, support our brothers and sisters over at UCSD by standing against hatred, against discrimination, against inequality and in solidarity.”

Many visitors unaffiliated with SOS — and some unaffiliated with USC — joined in the protest.

“What they did at that school was racist, and it shouldn’t have happened if they had any respect for African-American people,” said Kayla Tinker, a sophomore at Crawford High School who joined while attending a tour at USC.

The silent protest made students stop in their tracks as they walked by.

“It’s sad this happened,” said Ryan Morgan, a senior majoring in business administration. “They’re taking it really to heart,” he said of the SOS stand.

Some passers-by thought it was a powerful demonstration.

“It’s fantastic,” said Maxine Chaney, a graduate student studying marine environmental biology who observed the protest. “Students have a lot of power, and I think it’s great they show it.”

  • Matt

    Definitely agree that the party was racist/has racist undertones & to think you could have a party called “Compton Cookout” is somewhere between blindly ignorant and completely outrageous.

    HOWEVER

    Dont get it twisted, the UC system/State of California is not “funding” this fraternity party. Fraternity parties/social events are hosted and payed for by the dues of its members. So its just a bunch of white kids & their parents who are funding this “Compton Cookout”. Saying the State of California is funding this racist party is simply not true and criticizing the UC system for being racist is a longshot. Protesting the party is one thing but creating a conspiracy theory about the state of CA and their funding of racist fraternity bashes is just as absurd as the idea of that party

    • 99cent

      It’s not the parents’ faults, nor did they fund this party directly…don’t get it twisted homie.

      You wanna know who’s to blame? It’s the liberal-left administration that constantly tries in vain to instill in UC students the notion that African-Americans and Latinos are “owed their dues” because of the “innately evil” white man who subjugated them, oppressed them, raped them, exploited them, and so forth.

      White college students are fed up with this “white guilt” that UC schools try to brainwash their students with. My sister went to that “other school” across town, and told me the BS they try to plant in your head, but she’s a lot more intelligent than to buy their skewed and false rhetoric.

      This event in essence is just a way to throw up the middle-finger at the liberal-left. Extreme lefties are nothing but perpetual complainers who look for the worse in capitalism and white Americans. They got nothing positive to say and got chips on their shoulders.

  • Benito Juarez

    Racism begins with our families, parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents, people we admire, respect and love.

    However, as we grow and mature we come to the realization that what we were told by our family when we were children were slanted lies base on their prejudices. We realize that most people are like ourselves and not so different and want the same things, like a home, steady work, a Medicare plan and schools for our children (if you travel you will see this). We realize that most people are of good hearts and goodwill.

    This reminds me of a parable from the good book where a Levite and Priest come upon a man who fell among thieves and they both individually passed by and didn’t stop to help him. Finally a man of another race came by, he got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy and got down with the injured man, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his fellow man.

    You see, the Levite and the Priest were afraid, they asked themselves, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”

    But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

    That’s the question before us. The question is not, “If I stop to help our fellow man in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help our fellow man, what will happen to him or her?” That’s the question.

    God bless all my brothers and sister that stood side by side with our brothers and sisters in need, when you saw a wrong you tried to correct it, you may argue the methods but not the reasons. I know God will not discriminate by country of origin, our sex, our orientation, color of our skin, or our religion as men do.

  • Louis Farakhan

    I like that movie “Higher Learning.” It was raw, not sugar-coated like all those fake movies that depict white college kids having a blast with one “token black guy” who’s essentially an Uncle Tom. And then you got the whitewashed Asian girl, who throws herself all over the white frat guys. Next you got the Hispanic kids, who essentially got into college by some scholarship because MeCHA has a strong influence at the university. And the point is: they all get along, hold hands and sing ‘we are the world’

    Like Rodney King asked, “can’t we all just get along?”

    It’s 2010 y’all. I feel like listening to Public Enemy or KRS-1 to kick some knowledge on these perpetrators of hate.

  • Burton

    For those of you who’s anger at the PROTEST of the Compton party stems from unfamiliarity with either the party or a basic history of racial stereotyping here’s a bit of advice, none of which is meant to be patronizing nor spiteful, so please read on with an open mind:

    If you can’t understand what was offensive, it could be because you are unfamiliar with the history of the stereotypes of the black struggle. If you have it in your heart to calm your anger and learn more, just go attend a couple SOS meetings or watch Spike Lee’s film “Bamboozled” to get more of an idea of where the hurt and outrage comes from. Read a couple books on race relations, and talk to your black friends about what sorts of things offend them. The world would be a more peaceful place if we all took the time to know more about each other’s past.

    If your anger stems instead from prejudice (which you may or may not know you have), you can combat that by learning more about the cultures you dislike and the policies you seem to think are in place for keeping down white people.

    For the record, affirmative action actually doesn’t affect a white person’s admissions rate as students are judged in separate categories. A student from Illinois is compared only to other midwesterners, likewise a black student is only compared to other black students. To be fare, affirmative action would work better if it was done by socioeconomic divisions instead of race, but its currently there as a band-aid to other social ills. If you don’t like affirmative action, support politicians who want to build up public schools. If there were no division of quality of education in our country, we wouldn’t need affirmative action.

    Further, here’s a bit from the article linked to in one of the previous posts by another student. The invite begins in a nice way, but it’s clearly tongue in cheek if you read on. Please note the use of language (the switch from a cordial invite to slang) and stereotypes – particularly the demeaning depiction of women:

    Read The Invitation To The “Compton Cook Out,” As Posted On Facebook:

    “February marks a very important month in American society. No, i’m not referring to Valentines day or Presidents day. I’m talking about Black History month. As a time to celebrate and in hopes of showing respect, the Regents community cordially invites you to its very first Compton Cookout.

    For guys: I expect all males to be rockin Jersey’s, stuntin’ up in ya White T (XXXL smallest size acceptable), anything FUBU, Ecko, Rockawear, High/low top Jordans or Dunks, Chains, Jorts, stunner shades, 59 50 hats, Tats, etc.

    For girls: For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks-Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes – they consider Baby Phat to be high class and expensive couture. They also have short, nappy hair, and usually wear cheap weave, usually in bad colors, such as purple or bright red. They look and act similar to Shenaynay, and speak very loudly, while rolling their neck, and waving their finger in your face. Ghetto chicks have a very limited vocabulary, and attempt to make up for it, by forming new words, such as “constipulated”, or simply cursing persistently, or using other types of vulgarities, and making noises, such as “hmmg!”, or smacking their lips, and making other angry noises,grunts, and faces. The objective is for all you lovely ladies to look, act, and essentially take on these “respectable” qualities throughout the day.

    Several of the regents condos will be teaming up to house this monstrosity, so travel house to house and experience the various elements of life in the ghetto.

    We will be serving 40’s, Kegs of Natty, dat Purple Drank- which consists of sugar, water, and the color purple , chicken, coolade, and of course Watermelon. So come one and come all, make ya self before we break ya self, keep strapped, get yo shine on, and join us for a day party to be remembered- or not. “

  • kathy

    Agree with poster Joe. Why didn’t USC protesters hike over to UC and set up shop on THEIR campus? Oh, guess they didn’t hit their quota of “being offended” for today. Gotta go hunt down an issue over at another campus cuz USC didn’t supply one for them today, eh? Will also add to Joe’s comment that USC certainly is racist: reverse racist! Will jump thru hoops to recruit minorities, especially the Chinese & Indian persuasions, or black athletes. What, no protest marches for that????

  • Alum

    The comments by Mr. Adams are absolutely disgusting and should be removed from this site.

    • Joe

      Bah, this whole article including your comments smacks of fake outrage. In a country where nobody believes in racism against blacks, liberals are falling all over themselves to proclaim how outrageously opposed they are to racism against blacks. When anti-black racism was real, you defended it, but only now that it’s finished, you want to prove how sincere you are.

      As I said above, it’s lazy and its fake. If you want to be a force for good in the world, how about protesting something that really matters? How about protesting something that somebody on the other side might disagree with? — For example, fight against the anti-semitism that is resurgent on American college campuses (like UC Irvine recently); march in solidarity with the Iranian freedom movement; maybe even hold a tea party protest against the massive power grab currently under way in Washington (fat chance, I know).

      • alum 2

        Hey Joe, they made a 2010 remake of “we are the world” for Haiti, and soon they’ll make one for Chile. Can you make one for your plight there, “martyr?”

  • Joe

    Just clicked to this article. The three silliest things I see going on here:

    1) Protest on USC’s campus for something that happend at UCSD? Considering the lengths others have gone to, to stand up for what’s right, this just seems lazy.

    2) Students at a private university with active racial discrimination in admissions saying “We want to let the University of California system as a whole know that it’s unacceptable to allow funding to programs that perpetuate discrimination against any type of minority group”. FYI the UC system does not discriminate based on race, USC does.

    3) Black activists holding a public protest to highlight the fact that black people can’t make their voices heard, or something.

  • Manny

    I would ask that everyone who wanted to know more about the issue prior to jumping to any conclusions about the racist sentiments of either parties identified in this article do some research on what exactly spurred this response. This article gives a highlight of the issue at hand. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/27/education/27sandiego.html?scp=1&sq=compton%20cookout&st=cse

  • Sam

    The only thing racist is the USC students who assume that “Compton Cookout” automatically refers to African Americans.

    • Deanna

      Have you read any of the coverage on this issue? Recognizing when racial stereotypes are at play is not racism.

  • Ras

    I agree this Compton Cookout is insulting and deplorable. However, can a university actually penalize students for activities that occur outside the school? If students happen to attend the Trinity United Church of Christ (made famous by Rev. Jeremiah Wright) and some white students were insulted by its racial sermons – would the university step in? Anything short of inciting violence, we need to allow idiots and haters to show their true colors by engaging in activities like this Compton cookout. believe me – in this YouTube generation where everything is recorded for in perpetuity, here are going to be plenty of red-faced people 10 years from now when they try to run for public office or become CEO of a large company. We need to tag and release these idiots right now by letting them do their thing

    • Ed Krunk

      Interesting point of view. Let their dumb actions haunt them down the road huh?

      That works sometimes. Human beings have a tendency to forget about things, even disgraceful things. For me personally, whenever someone wrongs me, I don’t forgive nor forget. I’ll only do so if that person is contrite, and contrition is demonstrated through changed character. But most people don’t change, not even years after.

  • rashaald adams

    my order: fried chicken, bisquits, waffles will do if you ain’t got the bisquits, some welch’s strawberry drink and a big ass watermelon, and that’s on my momma.

  • Montana

    Instead of an apology there has been steady escalation and now the noose. So, what exactly will the excuses be for this cowardly act that brings up memories of the confederate KKK of the South in their attempts to keep slavery and the non-whites in fear? Is it that are uneducated, is it that their parents planted these seeds of hate, is it that they are live in fear because our President in the white house is not 100% white. This is what the republican party of “birthers, baggers and blowhards” have brought you. These kids follow what their dullard leaders say, they are young and dumb. Are you surprise at what they do when you know what they think? Of course it could be an off-campus dullard who listens to Beck, Hedgecock, Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush and Savage and the rest of the Blowhards.