Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

Houston Stephenville, We Have a Problem

January 26th, 2007 by Ajuan Mance

Seems that some white students at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas decided to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by dressing up as some of their favorite Black stereotypes. One would think that these students were history majors, considering the number of them who chose to dress as antebellum figures like Aunt Jemima.

The most shocking detail in this case isn’t that white students held a theme party that encouraged attendees to dress as Black stereotypes; nor is it particularly surprising that said students chose to hold this event on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I am not even surprised that one of the defenses of the party is that it was held in order to honor one of the organizer’s Black friends (because some of his best friends are Black).

While alternately disappointing, offensive, and sad, none of the facts of this party and I have described it above is shocking in and of itself. The shamelessness of the attendees, however, is both surprising and troubling, not because it is unexpected, but because it points to a new and disturbing trend in campus racism.

This was, you see, not a racist gathering held in secret. I daresay that a campus chapter of the Klan might have been a bit guarded about revealing its participants. These MLK, Jr. Day partyers, however, felt comfortable enough not only to record their racism for posterity, posing for numerous photographs, but also to permit them to be posted to the website

  • Start with a cultural climate in which resistance to racism is decried as “politically correct” censorship.
  • Add a scoop of that particular type of entitlement that has always existed on college campuses.
  • Fold in two cups of unfettered access to technology.
  • Stir in 3 heaping tablespoons of on-campus anti-Black sentiment masquerading as anti-affirmative action beliefs.
  • Finally, add good old-fashioned white supremacy to taste.
  • And–voil√°!– you get an increasing number of students (and other members of the academic community) parading their racism across the internet, not only on Facebook, Myspace, Livejournal, and other social sites, but on just about any corporate or alternative media website that allows readers to post comments.

According to the Houston Chronicle, “Tarleton State is the second largest university in the Texas A&M system,” and “of Tarleton State’s 9,000 students in the [current] semester, about 900 are black and 7,000 are white.”

Read the whole story (and see the photos) at The Smoking Gun.

Posted by Ajuan Mance 

Posted in African American, Aunt Jemima, Higher Education, Jr. Day, Martin Luther King, My Favorite Blogs, racism, Stereotypes, Tarleton State University

One Response

  1. ummadam

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I guess I just don’t get offended so easy. Just like I had nothing to say about the caritures of our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I have low expectations for everyone, so nothing really surprises me.