Some Notes on the TKE MLK Party, My Fraternity Experience, and General Racism-Related Stuff

I found this picture on the wall of one of the guys in the infamous MLK Day Party. Now, If I "assumed" this guy, or the organization publishing this kind of content was probably not sensitive to the "interests of black people," many would say I was jumping to conclusions.

I found this picture on the wall of one of the guys in the infamous MLK Day Party.
Now, If I “assumed” this guy, or the organization publishing this kind of content was probably not sensitive to the “interests of black people,” many would say I was jumping to conclusions.

-Facebook Chat-RE: TKE MLK Black-out Party:“Do you think it was racist?”

Define “it.”

“You know, the party.”

Like the idea behind the party?

“Yeah, and the racist frat bros who threw it.”

But those are two different things, right?

“Sort of.”

Sort of. Yeah, that’s my opinion.

“Your opinion is ‘sort of.'”

Yes.

“Stop being a smartass. Should these racist bros be expelled, or not?

Why on earth do you care about that? What difference does it make if they’re expelled?“It sets an example so people will think twice before being racist.”

No, it will stop them from broadcasting “stuff that makes liberals mad” on Instagram.It will force them to repress the overt expression of their prejudices.

They will become birthers.
They will champion “state’s rights.”
They will become paranoid about “voter fraud.”
They will call their negro co-workers “brotha” and spontaneously expect a kind of high-five-to-handshake from them, instead of a standard handshake.
They will enjoy Daniel Tosh, more than they already do.

How the partiers and the frat are disposed of matters to ASU’s PR team and the outside institutional forces with whom they play symbolic power games for the entertainment of the public and the placation of their key donors. That’s not to say none of it matters; it’s to say none of that matters to me.

Quite honestly, I’m glad they were proud to party like it was 1969.
 

“Glad? You’re glad these kids celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 21st century-style blackface?”

I’m glad they took pictures.
I’m glad they hashtagged them.
I’m glad they made it impossible to question the exact intention behind their event.
I’m glad we have a screenshot of how many ‘likes’ they got on instagram.
I’m glad I could lurk their Facebook profiles (before they deleted them) and try to guess how often I passed them on campus.
I’m glad I could see just how many ‘mutual friends’ we had between us.
I’m glad I could see their majors on the ASU directory.
I’m glad I could see their career aspirations on LinkedIn.

Most of all, I’m glad I could see just how absolutely normal, mundane, and boring they all were.

I could imagine working with them on a group assignment having no idea what they thought about me or (if they decided my dress and standard dialect put me in an-“other” category) what they imagined my family members must be like.

I got to imagine being their co-worker in a marketing firm, or worse, one of them my superior.

I’m glad because I don’t feel like I’m being paranoid when I get the “racism chills” from an occasional economics major in deck shoes when he asks me how I feel when he says nigger “like, when it comes up in a song, you know?”

Yeah, bro. I know.

I saw the pictures.

II.

FULL DISCLOSURE:
I pledged a fraternity my freshman year at ASU.

I didn’t make it into the brotherhood–I [was] dropped just before initiation week because 1. was a not very fratty, by any reliable metric developed up to that point, and 2. because I stopped showing up for pledge process-related events, at which my pledge bothers and I were totally, most definitely, honestly (not-)hazed.

We were totally, most definitely, honestly (not) “coerced” into clearing frat complex hallways of beer cans and (presumably-used) condoms. We (never) excavated disposable shot cups from the tar-like composites of vodka, Tampico, Arizona dirt, and watery anorexic vomit that lined the facility’s corridors like a stubborn film–the nearly bio-luminescent traces of a long night-to-be-forgotten and repeated a thousand times over into infinity, crudely scored by the dubstep playlists of yesteryear.

There were definitely (not) enough illicit drugs entering and exiting “frat row”–as it was called then–to sentence an entire Chicago block of black males to multiple life sentences, each.

There was definitely (not) that guy everyone suspected of being a date rapist, against whom no effective claim could be made due to a surprising lack of sufficient evidence and/or outspoken victims of his vaguely suspected improprieties.

There was definitely (not) not a single valuable academic achievement made within the confines of that building that wasn’t a direct result of amphetamine ingestion.

There was also not (no parentheses) a single instance in which I was called “a nigger.” At no point did I find myself dealing with any more “racial insensitivity” than one comes to expect to encounter after being a black male for 19 or so years.It just never happened.

In terms of diversity the frat I pledged was–despite being made up largely of super-privileged, (from what I can tell) mostly right-leaning, and fairly “fratty” individuals–just as, if not more, ethnically heterogeneous than any other organization I could expect to find at ASU.

Hedonism, homophobia, chauvinism, and isolated cases of anabolic steroid abuse aside–when considered exclusively in terms of how racist they were on average–they were generally pretty OK bros, when considered in aggregate, and in consideration of how not-OK  they could’ve been.

What do I mean by “could’ve” been?

There were three or four black guys living in the house of the fraternity I pledged.Next door, was either Sigma Chi (or Sigma Nu, I don’t remember. I was drunk.), and I’ll be damned if I ever saw anyone darker than a buttermilk waffle walk in or out of their doors.

What does that say about frats in general?

Nothing.

Why so much time has been dedicated this one characteristic of the MLK party kids is beyond me.

III.

I was at Casey Moore’s Oyster Pub about a month ago, and a lot of times after that, and a lot of times before that.

One of those times, I was working there as a host/bus boy.

I was collecting glasses from abandoned tables and constructing growing kaleidoscope of dirty pint glasses which were visibly difficult-to-manage with one hand whilst navigating a crowd of Saturday college drunks.

I felt a tap on my shoulder.”Hey, brotha,” he said, “You got a second?”

My face said, “fuck yourself, no,” but I think he drunkenly read my eye-contact as “yes, please interrupt my work to ask me a stupid, obviously racist question.”

“Do you–” he laughed, “and I don’t mean this to be racist–” he stammers, possibly thrown off-guard the Zulu war gaze making its way across my face, onto his blurry retinal screen, and only recently being registered somewhere in his brain-area.

“Do you…like…OK..my friends and I are having this debate,” he says, as his acquaintances grow pale and shrink into their mixed drinks.

“Do I what?”

“Do you like fried chicken? I don’t mean this in a racist way, everyone likes fried chicken…right?

IV.

I went to a community meeting organized by a group of concerned Arizona citizens who wanted to institute stricter regulations on assault rifles.

The organization was formed by white, middle class, liberal, college-educated people who wear Birkenstocks, in response to the Sandy Hook and Aurora, Colorado massacres.

The people were very nice.

The cookies and the water were free.

The fact the group was not pushing legislation that would make it more difficult to acquire handguns was a point they seemed to stress among one another.”We are focusing on assault rifles, because they are more dangerous–they are made for attacking people.”

I understood their message.

I also understood why they never brought up handgun homicide statistics from the inner-city.

Those were minority problems.

Also, if you ban handguns, how will you defend yourself from minorities who walk around in your neighborhood wearing hoodies?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s