Letter to the editor
In regard to Pi Kappa Phi’s “Phi-esta”
I am proud of who I am. I am Catholic, liberal and sometimes a little outspoken. This is one of those times. I am a Trojan through and through, but first, I am a woman of Mexican-American descent.
A couple weeks ago, the students of the Duke Asian Student Alliance held a protest against a “racist rager” that took place on the Duke University campus. This protest, with over 500 people in attendance, received national recognition in the media. These students banded together to protest a fraternity party in which other students dressed as different Asian stereotypes, openly mocking Asian culture with costumes, words and hand gestures. Shockingly, the Asian students of the campus took offense.
Now, only two weeks later, a fraternity at USC is throwing its very own “racist rager.” The brothers of Pi Kappa Phi are holding a “phi-esta.” That in itself does not seem too concerning, but when accompanied by a blatantly racist photo and a statement saying that partygoers should bring their “sombreros and accentos to a night of classy fun,” the mockery starts to peek through. The description then goes on to clear up any confusion about what to wear by encouraging viewers to look to the photo depicting two shirtless Mexican men in sombreros for inspiration.
I love a fiesta and a good margarita as much as the next girl, but not when it is just an excuse to make racist jokes and poke fun at a different culture. There is a big difference between celebrating a culture and mocking it.
A few hours after the event was posted, the description was edited to include “what not to expect”: “border patrol, pickpockets, those kids selling you chicle gum, [and] Montezuma’s Revenge.” Classy, indeed.
Is this what Mexican culture has been reduced to? An entire country, an entire people, an entire tradition is recognized solely by negative stereotypes. Is it not possible to hold a party without the predictably offensive costumes and mocking accents? Will it be less of a good time if guests refrain from obvious racism? I highly doubt it.
It is offensive that race is so easily used as a party theme. This is not the first “fiesta” and I am sure that it will not be the last, but I’m not waiting for the party to be over before I speak up.
I’m not waiting for the pictures of drawn-on mustaches, illegal immigrants and gardeners to make the rounds on Facebook. I’m not waiting for my heritage to be ridiculed before I start my protest.
This is my protest. This is me speaking up for what I believe in. This is me taking a stand.
Though I find this event to be utterly disrespectful, I mostly just find it disappointing. I refuse to believe that other students on the USC campus — other members of the Trojan family — can be so ignorant and reckless. We live in Southern California with one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the country, yet we still face situations like these.
If you read this and think I am overreacting, then I am sorry for you. I am sorry that you do not understand.
I am Mexican and proud, and I very much take offense.
Junior, Political Science