An overflow crowd filled the Multicultural Center lounge last night to discuss the growing trend of ‘ghetto parties.’
The event was a part of the center’s ongoing Race Matters series that strives to open channels for discussions about race.
According to Rebekah Meredith, an organizer of last night’s event, the catalyst for this particular discussion was a “gangstas and forties” party that was going to be held in Isla Vista last quarter. A group of students who have since formed an organization called Educate 2 Stop Hate, heard about the party, and they decided to educate people about the insensitivity of perpetuating these kinds of stereotypes.
Ghetto themed parties are not the only cultural stereotypes being exploited under the guise of party themes. A quick Facebook search will uncover South of the Border parties, Kung Fu parties and any number of variations on these themes.
Ghetto parties and the like at universities have been popping up in the mainstream media more and more often lately due to the appearance of photos and videos posted on websites like Facebook and Youtube.
Photos of a party at Clemson University on Martin Luthur King Jr. day that show one white student in “blackface” and others in exaggerated “gangsta wear” have sparked national debate.
In the aftermath, of the party those involved have said that they did not mean to offend anyone and that they were just having a good time. The consensus of those in attendance at the discussion was that these parties were wrong and ultimately racist, but blame was hard to place.
It was largely agreed upon that the media and ignorance were the biggest culprits and that education was the only way to combat the problem.
However, when discussing the media, there were questions about the line between comedy and disrespect. For example, some argues that racially charged comedy skits that make fun of a culture are often seen as okay, but things like these parties are derided. How then does one define celebrating a culture and exploiting it?
The group found that the answer came down to intelligence and a genuine interest in other cultures.
Most people agreed that ghetto parties were not making an effort to learn about a culture and that they merely reinforced ugly stereotypes.
To learn more, Educate 2 Stop Hate meets Fridays at 4 PM in the Student Resource Building, or stop by the Multicultural Center.