This was written by D’Artagnan Scorza, the Director of the Social Justice Learning Institute.

African American students at UC San Diego were shocked and demoralized by a “Compton Cookout” that took place this past Monday February 15.

According to the Facebook invitation, students from several fraternities organized this party in honor of Black History Month, inviting guests to “experience the various elements of life in the ghetto.”

Males were encouraged to wear oversized clothing, chains, and display tattoos. As “ghetto chicks,” females were “to speak very loudly, while rolling their neck, and waving their finger.” They were also supposed to imitate other so-called characteristics of “ghetto chicks” such as having a limited vocabulary, using vulgarities, and smacking their lips.

After protests from the Black Student Union and African American students on campus, on the evening of February 18, 2010, several students broke into the university-funded television station SR-TV in support of the Compton cookout, calling the African American community “ungrateful niggers.” Upon investigation of the program host’s media offices, the campus discovered a note on the studio floor with the words “Compton lynching.”

The students involved with the initial event are currently planning a “Compton Cookout Part Deux” in March. This is in defiance of the frustration of African Americans and other underrepresented students of color.

These events have caused UCSD to earn the reputation of being a racist school and is a blow to recruitment efforts for Black students and other underrepresented minorities to the UCSD campus. Currently, UCSD’s African American student body comprises 2% of the total population, despite a much larger presence statewide. Our tax dollars are supporting an institution that has a reputation for tolerating such offensive behavior against Black students.

Responses

UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox issued a statement condemning the initial event as did the Associated Students (AS) organization. In addition, several hundred students have led protests on the UCSD campus. Fox agreed to a list of demands on the part of students and members of the community including the creation of a task force to improve the university climate for underrepresented students and launched an investigation into criminal activity and violations of the Student Code of Conduct.

What Is Needed

We need to raise awareness and apply pressure to the entire University system. As unfortunate as this circumstance is, it is not isolated to just one campus. Campuses such as UCLA, UC Irvine and UC Santa Cruz have faced similar problems in the past.

These types of events occur in part because of the small numbers of students of color. Without a critical mass of people of color, White students feel emboldened to allow their most base racist views manifest itself into incidents such as the “Compton Cookout.”

Organizers ask that letters of support and expressions of disapproval be directed to the UCSD Chancellor, Marye Anne Fox at University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093 and to the UC Board of Regents at University of California 111 Franklin Street Oakland, California 94607.

Furthermore, you can support the students by attending any sponsored event both on and off the campus. Finally, you can call on UCSD to explore disciplinary actions against perpetrators of hate and intolerance.