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UCSD Students Say Deeper Racism Exists On Campus

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Aired 2/24/10

UC San Diego administrators stage a campus-wide "teach-in" today about a recent spate of racially-charged incidents against African Americans on campus. Black student groups plan to hold a news conference before the campus-sanctioned event. The students believe these incidents reflect a deeper sense of racism at the university.

— UC San Diego administrators stage a campus-wide "teach-in" today about a recent spate of racially-charged incidents against African Americans on campus. Black student groups plan to hold a news conference before the campus-sanctioned event. The students believe these incidents reflect a deeper sense of racism at the university.

UCSD students attend a campus forum on February 19, 2010 to discuss recent racially offensive incidents at the school. Minority student leaders blame UCSD administrators for not doing enough to value black students.
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Above: UCSD students attend a campus forum on February 19, 2010 to discuss recent racially offensive incidents at the school. Minority student leaders blame UCSD administrators for not doing enough to value black students.

African American student Bijon Robinson is a top scholar and athlete at UCSD. Dozens of colleges tried to recruit her. Now she regrets her decision.

“We (her family) came from struggles and this was an accomplishment being here. But I would prefer to go somewhere else than to be here, knowing that I have to look over my back because people want me dead,” Robinson said.

Robinson is referring to a note found at UCSD last week that read "Compton lynching." The note surfaced about a week after a group of UCSD fraternity members organized a party to mock Black History month.

Students were invited to the so-called Compton Cookout. The invitation told women to come as “ghetto chicks” with “nappy hair” and “a very limited vocabulary.” Malt liquor and watermelon would be served.

Some say the Compton Cookout was just meant to be a parody. But Robinson and her bestfriend Eliz Diop are not laughing.

“The whole party was planned to dehumanize our culture,” Diop said. “They chose to emphasize the parts of our culture we have no control over. Who wants to live in the ghetto?”

Many minority students have said the incidents speak to a larger problem. African Americans make up only 2 percent of UCSD’s student population. The majority are whites and Asians. Plus, one small group of students has exacerbated the racial tensions by publishing inflammatory material in an alternative newspaper called The Koala.

Those students also appeared on a student-run TV program using racially offensive words in support of the Compton party. Now there’s a freeze in funding for student TV. Kris Gregorian is Koala’s editor in chief. He ducked an interview with a joke.

“The Koala communication protocol dictates we do not provide statements to the press unless beer is provided. The overarching goal is beer,” Gregorian said.

This kind of joking around is a sign of new generational trends, says San Diego State University sociologist Jean Twenge. She’s the author of Generation Me. She says her research shows young people today are increasingly self-absorbed – and few have any grasp of what something like the civil rights movement meant.

“They (students) maybe don't even have a lot of understanding of the history. They saw this as another group, and some of the people in this group do some things that they could have some fun with. And they don't understand the deep pain and the prejudice and discrimination that has happened in the past,” Twenge said.

A group of black community leaders hang their heads in prayer on a Saturday afternoon in Southeast San Diego. Many of them lived through the civil rights era. Now they’re meeting to discuss the problems young black people face today.

Baye Kes Ba Me Ra is with the Pan African Association of America. He says the problem at UCSD is bigger than just a few students.

“Its not just what the students did. It's a reflection of the individuals who run the institution,” he said.

Penny Rue is vice chancellor of student affairs at UCSD. She says the university has been trying to make the campus a more hospitable place for minority students. For instance, UCSD does send many admission letters to black students, but many don’t accept. They go to other schools like UC Berkeley. She says it’s a dilemma for UCSD.

“There are things that make it difficult. One is California law. Prop. 209 prevents us from using race in any way as a level of analysis,” Rue said.

Proposition 209 was the end to affirmative action in California. Rue says the university is trying to increase the number of underrepresented students on campus using other strategies.

And last week, black student leaders presented a list of 32 demands to help fix what they call a “racial state of emergency.” Officials say they will meet many of their demands. Minority students say the real test comes after the campuswide teach-in and once the media scrutiny fades.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Noxx_Herringtown'

Noxx_Herringtown | February 24, 2010 at 11:29 a.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

There's 2 separate issues here: The note threatening violence towards an individual, and a parody party. The note is totally unacceptable and should be investigated as a crime.

The party on the other hand, all I've got to say is: "Grow up already!" A bunch of kids had a party and invited people to come and imitate stereotypical behavior of a certain ethnic group. Ok, perhaps not the most sensitive thing to do, but well within the realm of free speech. As long as no one is suggesting any sort of violence or any other criminal actions be taken towards another group of people, SO WHAT?

If I was a black community leader, I would like to think I would stand up and say something like: "Come on people. It was a bunch of drunken numnutz having a party. If we throw a fit every time a group of people who are a different color than us offend us, it makes us look small and insecure. The sooner we learn to laugh at our own shortcomings, the sooner we'll reach a post racial world"

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Avatar for user 'ithink619'

ithink619 | February 24, 2010 at 12:19 p.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

The administrators should make it a requirement that more of the students serve in the community in areas where there are other races present besides their own. So more students of different races can learn to work together and respect each other instead of against each other and step outside of their comfort zones. This party was organized and similar things happen everyday because people are scared of learning about each other and the true differences between us. So people who have limited exposure to other races identify with them the only way that they know how which is through stereotypes because the only exposure that some people have with other races of people is done through the eyes of the media and entertainment, which do not represent the morals and values of a whole race of people.

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Avatar for user 'oscartbear'

oscartbear | February 24, 2010 at 1:31 p.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

What sets you off, sets them off. A small minority causes this much anguish?
Students wake up and don't get baited. Use the video, use your politicians use your mind. The only difference between students today and 50 years ago is the money from collegiate sports on national television.
Just think what would happen if Black student athletes went back to those small traditional Colleges and University's. Problem solved overnight but that won't happen because THAT much money talks and bull ****t walks.
So get creative and if you want to fight, go look in the history department library. This fight has been fought before and obviously it will be again. So use your education because your never going to forget this incident. They won't let you. So use it. It's time to cease the moment and your camera's.

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Avatar for user 'sunnysd'

sunnysd | February 24, 2010 at 1:55 p.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

As dissappointed as I am at the racism on the UCSD campus, I am even more dissappointed in national news networks getting the facts wrong and getting people worked up about a incorrectly represented event: the Compton Cookout. The party was hosted by a NON-UCSD person, who also happens to be black. His name is Jiggaboo Jones and he has a made himself known through insensitive comments and DVD's on committing crimes. Personally, I an not at all a supporter of his, but I think it is important to note that this cookout event was A) in no way was planned or orchestrated by UCSD students, including campus fraternities or sororities, B) is not representative of UCSD as a whole (remember total attendance was 34, was not entirely students, and there are over 26,000 students at UCSD), and C) is an event which has taken place in previous years with no notice at all.

Right now, many people are getting worked into a frenzy over the whole situation. I can understand this. Racism should not be tolerated, especially at a public university. However, people need to educate themselves and get the facts correct, otherwise the perpetuation of false information could have dire consequences. I am in support of the outrage at UCSD, but I urge people not to give in to a mob mentality and forget to think for themselves.

PLEASE look into these issues for youself because there is a lot of incorrect information circulating and causing tensions.

Here is a YouTube link to Jiggaboo Jones discussing his Compton Cookout party. Please note that there is A LOT of foul language in this link.

You can also do an internet search for "Jiggaboo Jones" and see his personal website, history of crime, and many opinionated publications on his work.

I certainly hope NPR will begin reporting the CORRECT facts of this party, so that a well-informed discussion of events may take place.

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Avatar for user 'Noxx_Herringtown'

Noxx_Herringtown | February 24, 2010 at 2:12 p.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

@sunnysd

Just watched JB's youtube response video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGfFSZ...

Well put!! Didn't hear any of this on the news, as racial strife sells commercials I guess. Thanks for the info!

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Avatar for user 'Jdubya1'

Jdubya1 | February 24, 2010 at 2:33 p.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

I believe strongly in Free Speech but I felt that these young men did something that was just inappropriate. There is just no room any more for intolerance and stereotypes. Free Speech should be protected but from what I have seen you have people that were in fact hurt and singled out in the incident. When I went to college I was actively involved in Black Student Union and Intercultural leadership. We would find ways to explore stereotypes as a whole community in order to bring people together. What these young men did regardless of intentions was create an offense on the black community at UCSD. I always learned to bring differences and questions out into the open so people can talk about them. Now what is happening is tensions are rising and hostility has been implemented.

J

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Avatar for user 'Noxx_Herringtown'

Noxx_Herringtown | February 24, 2010 at 4:29 p.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

As SunnySD pointed out, the media seems to be the party mostly responsible for creating an offense to black people. This wasn't forced on anyone, it wasn't some televised event. It was a private, multi-racial party with an open invitation. If you're offended by it don't come. The media spun it as some sort of white power party full of aryan nazies.

A quote from the parent article has something in it which I think a lot of people will overlook:

"“They (students) maybe don't even have a lot of understanding of the history. They saw this as another group, and some of the people in this group do some things that they could have some fun with. And they don't understand the deep pain and the prejudice and discrimination that has happened in the past,” Twenge said."

"They saw this as another group, and some of the people in this group do some things they could have some fun with". Well, isn't that what battle over racial equality been fighting for for decades? That young people see black people as just another group and that some people in this group do some stupid stuff? I'd say University sociologist Jean Twenge is the racist if she believes that blacks are anything more or less than just another group of people.

The thing is, we're talking about a college campus. These are young kids, black and white who didn't grow up in the South during segregation. They weren't there for the fight for civil rights (neither was I to be honest). You can't expect every generation to tip toe around black people because 50 years ago there was blatant racism.

I'm 32 years old. Since kindergarten, I went to school with black kids. Most "white" people my age and younger don't remember a time when blacks were a second class citizenry, we've worked and gone to school side by side since day one. Most people my age and younger can easily differentiate between making fun of a group of people that happen to be largely black and behave a certain way, and blacks as a race.

Redneck NASCAR watching, Bud Light drinking, meth using white people (AKA white trash) can be openly mocked without fear being called a racist because its commonly accepted that not all white people fit this stereotype.

Race relations among younger generations have advanced to a point where they easily recognize that watermelon eating, baggy pants wearing, gang banging, crack users while often black, do not represent the black population at large. To them, its not a big deal. But you get organizations like PBS that are race obsessed, and everything that's not 100% politically correct is automatically racist and a panel must be convened and hearings held because someone got their feelings hurt.

Its an inevitable byproduct of progress, that blacks who behave in a ridiculous manner will be made fun of just as a person of any other color would. Equality doesn't just mean sharing the same rights, it also means sharing the same responsibilities.

-M@

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Avatar for user 'parcy'

parcy | March 4, 2010 at 1:29 p.m. ― 4 years, 8 months ago

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Scottie | October 19, 2010 at 2:39 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

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Scottie | October 20, 2010 at 2:44 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

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