Sigma Chi Fraternity at Johns Hopkins Suspended over "Hood" Party

The Sigma Chi fraternity at Johns Hopkins University was suspended because they held a "Halloween in the Hood" party that drew protests by black students.

It would appear that an invitation to the party, posted on the Facebook.com web site, encouraged guests to wear "regional clothing from our locale" with jewelry including "bling bling ice ice, grills" and "hoochie hoops."

Outside the fraternity house, a skeleton pirate was found hanging on a noose.

Black Student Union members protested the party saying the appearance of the image and the language of the invitation highlighted racial tensions at Hopkins and the strained relations between the University and the surrounding community. Protestors had signs depicting a historical lynching next to a picture of the fraternity's skeleton.

The University suspended the fraternity pending a full investigation. Sigma Chi's international headquarters has suspended the chapter's operations for 45 days and said further disciplinary action was possible. At a campus forum, members of Sigma Chi apologised for the actions of the author of the invitation.

The Baltimore branch of the NAACP intends to explore legal action against the fraternity and the university.

AP - Frat suspended over 'Hood' party

Author's Opinion

Does this show absolute proof that the fraternity is being racist against African-Americans? The media such as MTV and BET have glorified hip-hop culture where people boast about their "bling bling jewelry" and their "hoochie hoops." It would seem that if a white person said that, he or she is labeled a racist or making fun of blacks.

Now, the invitation was done in poor taste. In fact, in any Halloween party, people do dress up as hip-hop stars, gangsters, rappers, and what not. Should they be labeled race-hating persons if a white person was wearing them? It would seem to me that wearing any black-associated costume is a no-no for everyone else.

For Black Student Union members trying to link a skeleton pirate being hanged to a racist lynching is an extreme example at best. Obviously, pirates are usually hanged if they are captured. So what if the name of the party did not include the word "Hood," would the hanging skeleton be still considered a racist portrayal of a lynching? If that is the case, then I have to say that there are people out there who believe everyone is out to get them just because of the skin of their color. Sounds to me that it is more about racist paranoia.

But it doesn't stop there. The NAACP has to get in on the kill. Come on here, black students were not lynched or killed off. Suddenly, a party theme done in poor taste means that the whole University is considered to be insensitive to racial relations. Perhaps they can blame the Pirates of the Caribbean movie for showing hanging pirates. Yep, Johnny Depp is racist so let's go boycott Disney for making such a racist film.

This was an incident blown out of proporation. It would seem the University and the Sigma Chi international fraternity are more fearful about lawsuits and are willing to put up these fraternity members as the scapegoats. Then Johns Hopkins students would need to attend diversity training and have to sign some sort of multi-cultural pledge. Multi-cultural correctness gone amok.

Now this would all be different if this fraternity had racial problems in the past. If this was their first bad incident, it would seem that the reaction has gone quite overboard. It would seem more likely that the Black Student Union wanted the publicity to embarass the school. That is how I see that given the facts that are laid out. If there is any new information, I sure want to see it.

11/2/06 - The chapter has expelled social chair, junior Justin Park, for posting the advertisement on Facebook.com. The Black Student Union (BSU) continues on the warpath with demonstrations throughout the week, calling on Johns Hopkins to punish the fraternity severely. It has also challenged the administration to pursue a number of institutional changes that they "claim" are necessary to fight the latent undercurrent of racism on campus that has been ignored for years.

General sentiment at the party never thought that the pirate hanging decoration outside of the house party resemble a mockup lynching. This includes fraterntiy members and party attendees. It would seem more students were offended by the invitation than by the theme name for the party.

Marvin Cheatham, president of Baltimore chapter of NAACP, stated they had no plans to pursue legal action against the University.

I wonder how other Greeks at Johns Hopkins are responding to this.

Back to BSU complaints... it seems that the party was just one issue on top of a haystack. They have claimed that whtie and Asian students routinely snub black students when it comes to forming study groups, there aren't nearly enough black tenured faculty members and white faculty advisors routinely pressured black students to either change majors or drop courses; and the assumption that black students are unqualified to attend Hopkins and got a free affirmative action pass. It sounds to me there is a lot of pent-up frustration and the "hood" party just opened the floodgates.

Another shot at this "lynching" costume... black students claim that the hanging pirate was meant to symbolise a lynching. Suddenly, they are painting themselves as the victims. Come on here! Pirates were hanged. That is what they get for piracy. All hangings were NOT lynchings, and not all lynchings involved hanging.

11/3/06 - In response, the University will provide additional diversity training to students and faculty members, and plans to incorporate the history of racism into the campus curriculum and workshops, and better communication with multicultural groups.

Seems like students will have to sign a pledge to uphold the political correctness world of multiculturalism. Looks like I do not see any ban on hanging skeleton pirate decorations implemented yet.

But really, how much more diversity training is needed? Now everything what you say or type can be construed as offensive and racist. What happened to common sense?

11/5/06 - BSU protestors still think not enough is being done to address their concerns

11/8/06 - When you think about it... it was a Korean student that wrote the Facebook.com invitation. He called it "satirical" when some complained about the first version. He re-did and made it even more offensive. So I guess blacks are also calling Asians racist too. Just imagine when more hispanic students are at Johns Hopkins.

So Justin H. Park has been made the scapegoat. His statement: "I am not a racist - anybody who knows me will attest to the fact," Park wrote in the apology. "That my statement has been misconstrued as derogatory and hateful to a certain group of people is especially hurtful to me."

NAACP have claimed that Hopkins leaders are allowing a "racist" atmosphere to persist on campus. Really??? Hmm, I wonder if they got the data to prove that.

More Updates

Johns Hopkins University News Release on Investigation

Sigma Chi - Kappa Upsilon Chapter Suspended

Johns Hopkins News Letter - Sigma Chi's Long Night

Johns Hopkins News Letter - Protests Erupt Over Allegations of Racist Sigma Chi Party

BAW - Commentary: Before We Blast Others Who Promote Black Stereotypes, We’ve Got to Stop Giving Them Ammo

wjz.com - Johns Hopkins Halloween Controversy Will Not End

JHU Gazette - Steps Taken to Address Recent Racial Concerns

Examiner - Hopkins to up diversity training after controversial frat party

Baltimore Sun - Hopkins targets campus racism

Baltimore Sun - Hopkins protestors see little improvement

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Comments

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Posted by: Kevin
Posted on: November 7, 2006 12:53 AM

I am with the author on this one. This is a crock of shit, these people have nothing else better to do than bitch and moan. I am a Sigma Chi from in Texas and sure we along with every other fraternity have theme parties. This is all it was a theme party, how in the hell does a hanging pirate skeleton have to do with lynching. These people are stupid, the BSU and NAACP come on, i mean seriously grow up and get over the whole racist thing.

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Posted by: Alexis
Posted on: November 7, 2006 12:39 PM

I don't think either of you got the entire story-- the Baltimore Sun's coverage includes details of much more obviously racist things that were in that Facebook invitation.

I seriously don't think the NAACP should be suing JHU over this-- they're already having to do serious damage control over the actions of some stupid frat boys, who are in all likelihood sheltered, arrogant idiots from the affluent Long Island and Jersey suburbs (I myself moved from Long Island to attend school here in Baltimore). The University should definitely have been more aware of incidents like this and taken measures to stop it earlier, but ultimately it's the frat that should be punished. But to imply that the NAACP shouldn't get involved because "black students were not lynched or killed off" is an absolutely disgusting statement.

As for the "grow up and get over the whole racist thing" statement made by Kevin from Texas: If this was a serious (as in, not sarcastic) statment, only someone who's not been on the receiving end of racism would say something as ignorat as that. People will "get over" racism when racism ceases to exist, and unfortunately it doesn't look like that's happening any time soon. This blog thread is just one small reminder of this sad fact.

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Posted by: Author
Posted on: November 7, 2006 01:54 PM

This is why new information is needed. Again, I have to say if the theme of the party did not include the word "Hood", would the pirate hanging be still linked with the lynching of a black person?

I have read the article and it is the same as the one I read on another site. I still have to question if it were a party sponsored by the Black Student Union, would the words "bling, bling" or "hoochie hoops" be considered racist?

How can you prove that the pirate hanging was an actual mockup of a mob lynching? I want to know the reasoning. Was the pirate holding a sign saying "Black Person?" Was he wearing lots of "bling bling?" Were fraternity members wearing racist costumes?

The involvement of the NAACP is completely unnecessary and exacerbates the current racial relationship between the University and the community. I am complaining about the fact the local chapter is accusing the University of widespread racial insensitivity, and I want to see evidence that the whole campus is being racist against all minorities.

Please provides pictures and other substantial evidence of the fraternity chapter being racist.

You can blame the fraternity and they should be penalised for the member's poor taste in his facebook invitation but suspending them is an overreaction.

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Posted by: Josh
Posted on: November 7, 2006 07:26 PM

Where does it stop? Why can a person of color make a defamatory remark, irrespective of how insensitive it is, and have no consequences. When a white person uses "hip-hop" lingo, then it is construed as racist??? Are there any black members in this chapter? Are there any other ethnic backgrounds in the chapter? I'm sure if you looked there are. This IS another overreaction to something stupid. I highly reccomend people find something to better occupy their time than nit picking everything that is out there which THEY could view and mold into something that they call racially insensitive....At some point, people will stop being sensitive to the moronical complaining....you only disolve the real issue and reaction to racism when it actualy occurs. Stop being so damn PC. Hanging Pirates and "Hood" = rascism???....you people make me want to leave planet Earth...go vote democrat you crybabies.

IN HOC

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Posted by: Chris
Posted on: November 7, 2006 10:17 PM

First off, I completely agree with the author in that the party was in poor taste, but that's my personal belief on this. If the NAACP wants to actually make a difference instead of just lining their pockets (does anything filter back to the community? Probobly not) then they should go after MTV, and other media outlets that hype this kind of image on a mass scale. Poverty exists, racism exists, and I think it would be incredibly ignorant to not say that there was some racial insensitivity in the planning for the event. But malice? No. There is no crime. Let's see...how about a red neck party? Problem? Nope. Why? Cause there's no hilbilly clubs on university campus's or international hilbilly associations to protect them the incessant propaganda hyping incest and guns. But I digress... Yes, there's hypocrisy, but that's the reality. I'm a Sig, I know what we stand for, they screwed up. Yes it was just a party, yes people are overly sensitive, but seriously, at some southern chapter a couple years ago the chapter hired hobos to pick cotton balls off the front lawn. If this type of thing isn't confronted in a juvenile stage, it progresses. But over all, balls to HQ for only dealing with things like this when they get media attention.

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Posted by: Eric G
Posted on: November 8, 2006 09:14 AM

Johns Hopkins and Sigma Chi (at the national level) are both taking this incident very seriously. On its face, the party was conceived and promoted in poor taste. Is there clear evidence of racism? No, not based on any information I have seen, but that doesn't mean everyone should shrug their shoulders and walk away. The purpose of any investigation is to determine the truth of the matter, and unfortunately for them, these young men made some bad decisions that have raised serious questions about their motives.

As a Sigma Chi, I fervently hope this incident was evidence of poor judgement rather than an something more despicable, but no one, particularly those most offended by the incident, will know that answer without a fair review of all the facts of the case.

Let us all take this opportunity to remind ourselves that Sigma Chi was conceived and founded on the premise that diversity is intrinsically valuable and rededicate ourselves to promoting the high qualities of character that are so prevalent among our members.

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Posted by: Author
Posted on: November 8, 2006 09:30 AM

I do agree that an investigation needs to be conducted to find out the truth. In the end, they may find that a very poor decision was made with the facebook invitation. Yet, their "Hood" party was taken out of context and should not be construed as an attack on blacks. I hope evidence will prove that the pirate hanging setup outside of the chapter house has no connection with a mockup lynching.

I also think that the NAACP should step back and not take any action until the university and national fraternity have completed their investigation. I am just worried that some fervent supporters within that NAACP local chapter may still want to pursue legal action just to defend their pride.

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Posted by: Mike
Posted on: November 8, 2006 12:07 PM

As I read through the arguments of each contributor to this chain of conversation I would like to remind all that we are dealing with very young adults who lack the judgment and wisdom that one acquires as the years go by. I can remember some of the stupid pranks and stunts we pulled during my college years that upon later reflection be deemed a bit unwise. If you look at the JHU Greek Awards page you will notice that the chapter had:

Greek Man of the Year
2005-2006 Raaid Mahir Ahmad Sigma Chi
2004-2005 Joseph James Chung Sigma Chi

Senior Academic Excellence Award (fraternity)
2005-2006 Jonathan Alexander Godin Sigma Chi

Senior Athletic Excellence Award (fraternity
2005-2006 no recipient
2004-2005 John Powers "JP" Balfour Sigma Chi
2003-2004 Rifat Chowdhury Sigma Chi.

To me this indicates an outstanding group of well rounded individuals from a very diversified backround. In 4 years of existence as a chapter at JHU they have managed to capture many of the greek excellence awards in both academic and athletic areas. Does this absolve them of exibiting possible poor judgement? I would say no, but it does indicate to this reader that this case is just that poor judgement and not racism. At what point do we as a society finally begin to realise that the ability to laugh at our selves is one of the things that eliminates racism. If a group wants to poke fun at a stereotypical part of society it becomes racism if the african american community is the predominant part of the stereotype, but it is ok if that community is poking fun in the opposite direction? Are the Wayan brothers racist for doing the movie "White Chicks"? When are we as a society going to develop some common sense and learn to react appropriately to boorish behavior and not try to litigate everything like the fate of the human race depends on it. In this case I believe that the NAACP is doing nothing more than practicing racial extortion in hopes of getting a big settlement from the University and Fraternity to make them go away.

To continue to grow and be excellent is the desire of any organization in the United States, whether it is a fraternal organization or a business. The organizations that strive accomplish this must open their arms to all individuals to make a contribution. Failure to do so in the global community of today is a guarantee of failure tomorrow....

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Posted by: Buddy Metcalf
Posted on: November 8, 2006 04:07 PM

I am a Sigma Chi from New York and I can definitley tell you that this fraternity is nothing more than a good ol'boy club dedicated to keeping southern aristocracy alive and any Sig that tries to tell you different is living in a state of denial. That said, the reaction to this politically incorrect party is ridiculous.

In Hoc,

Jaded in New York

Having only read excerpts of the invitation, one can clearly see that it was written to entertain those who are perceived to come from priveledged backgrounds. The epitaph of a noose around a 'skeleton' with pirates attire should not be interpeted as a metaphore for racial lynchings. It was a questionable gesture, and unfortunately it did not help the chapter's image. Anything to do with lynching is simply bad taste and does not project an image of harmony, friendship and trust in the community.
Best to take these boys to the wood shed and give them what's due. Clearly, they need to spend some time volunteering in amongst the less fortunate and get to know the neighborhoods and people they are mocking. It is a big lesson to learn, that when one group has a perceived greater priviledge than another, one can't afford to belittle the lesser. Maturity is lacking in this group of Sigma Chis and they need to look at how their actions are perceived by the greater community.

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Posted by: avoiceoreason
Posted on: November 8, 2006 10:15 PM

I would have to agree with the general "poor taste but blown out of proportion" theme that most seem to be leaning towards. To the point of one of the previous posts we had "Redneck Longneck" parties several times with no one threatening to sue.

To Jaded in New York, you seem to have a very skewed sense of the fraternity if you think it is only a good ol' boys club. I was a Sigma Chi at Virginia which I would argue is a pretty southern school. The Psi chapter there was one of the most diversified on grounds. Yes, we even had several African-American members. Those members never complained about the Motown and Malt Liquor mixers. In fact, they suggested them! They would have also probably come up with the idea for a "Hood" party and would have found it hilarious. It would have been interesting to see the NAACP suing us our chapter.

And judging by the awards list that was previously posted it sure doesn't seem like the JHU chapter is a bunch of racist good ol' boys either.

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Posted by: Pat
Posted on: November 9, 2006 09:05 PM

The hanging of a pirate is in no way a racist symbol unless the skeleton was in some way representing African Americans or other races. I could not disagree more with the post made by Upsilon Upsilon "79. Historically, Pirates were hung all the time. Its Halloween and skeletons and pirates are a popular theme. This aspect has been blown out of proportion. It was a tasteless party and the invitation seems poorly written. Sigma Chi prides itself on its member’s different temperaments, talents, and convictions. Sigma Chi is a very diversified organization. I hope it was not the intent of the author of the invitation to belittle anyone. HQ office of Sigma Chi has expelled one member from the organization suspended the chapter for 45 days. In no way does it need to be sued by the NAACP. That is ridiculous. As to other posts claiming that white kids dressing as "rappers" and "gangsters” is inappropriate: It’s Halloween. Who cares? There are white rappers and gangsters. I happen to love rap and I am definitely white. In society today, mostly due to MTV and BET, the cultures are glorified. Hip-hop and Rap did start by predominantly African American artists, but they are not its only audience. Every race listens to these genres of music and on Halloween it seems fine to dress "hood" for persons of any race, or it should be.

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Posted by: Alexis
Posted on: November 10, 2006 01:28 PM

I'm sure that whoever hung the pirate skeleton decoration wasn't thinking about lynching when they did so. But in light of the racist remarks in the Facebook invitation for the party, that person obviously wasn't using his brain. Everyone here seems either completely oblivious to all the remarks made in the invitation. It seems that in some misplaced loyalty for a fraternity brother and in a knee-jerk reaction to an attack against what, from the frat's point of view, was only a harmlessly humorous party, no one is bothering to do more research. That, or some of you are pretending to not know about them so they can keep harping on how the Halloween decoration or the "hood" theme weren't racist and how “some people” are just “too sensitive”.

If all that happened was that some idiot frat boy hung a Jack Sparrow skeleton from a tree at a "Hood" party, then I think it would be easier to argue that this was just a case of a college kid simply being a complete moron and not necessarily a racist. This wasn't the case, though. The author of this blog says he read the article from the Sun-- so then did you catch the part where, in the Facebook invitation, your frat brother referred to Baltimore as "the HIV pit"? Not simply the usual labels of "the ghetto" or "the hood", but a heartless jab at a serious problem in this seriously troubled city. This, I think, is probably the most damning detail that pushes the whole thing from the realm of silly frat antics to obvious contempt for the chapter's adopted city that can definitely be characterized as racist.

Is this what you want to defend? Do you really want to have such a cold and insensitive attitude associated with your fraternity? I would think that intelligent people involved in Greek life would want to dispel the stereotype of the spoiled, arrogant, idiotic frat boy. Instead, most of you are defending this behavior and, by doing so, just reinforcing this image of college fraternities. Anyone whose sense isn't completely clouded by blind loyalty to their fraternity would see this behavior does nothing for Sigma Chi's image or the image of Greek life in general.

It's obvious that the comments here have been made by people who are not only missing the more important details of the story, but are obviously not familiar with Baltimore and the university's relationship with its home city. Baltimore is a fairly racially- and socio-economically- segregated city that has a lot of problems (in case none of you are familiar with The Wire). Even though the city is predominantly black, African-Americans make up a pretty small percentage of the student body. Most of the students come from relatively affluent suburbs, and it sounds like they’re taught to fear the city that surrounds their campus just as much as the kids at my school were. My alma mater is arguably even more "liberal" than Hopkins, and even though our classes and other activities had us interact with the surrounding community, the same fear was more or less there, and probably still is. I'm positive that Hopkins has programs that encourage students to participate in the community, and a member of Sigma Chi pointed out in another blog that the fraternity participates in community service events. But then when something like this party, with its overtly racist invitation mocking the community the frat claims to have been trying to help, it makes all those acts of goodwill seem fake.

If anyone here gives a damn and didn’t just add a careless comment here merely to defend their frat brothers, this editorial, which I have to say sounds like a very fair assessment of the situation, and this other Sun article may give a clearer idea of the history of tension on campus and between the university and the city.

And I have no idea what the ethnic makeup of the JHU chapter of the fraternity is, but apparently the guy who posted the offensive invitation is of Korean ancestry. No sensible person would believe that only whites can be racist, and racist behavior shouldn't be tolerated from anyone of any ethnic background. And it's absolutely spineless and stupid in my opinion to speak out against racism only when it targets your own ethnic background, or to laugh along when other people make fun of your culture or your race, or to partake in racist behavior especially when you've possibly been a victim of some level of racism yourself. Again, I believe this applies to all races.

Look, I agree that suing people is not the way to start a dialogue to gain a better understanding of each other. And while I do think the BSU is totally right to be upset by this party, from what I've heard and from reading the Hopkins editorial, they're not doing much other than drawing media attention (though I was disappointed to learn that our NPR station has been trying to get in touch with the BSU to have a discussion on a popular talk show and have yet to receive a response). It sounds to me like the BSU, the university, and the fraternity are all guilty of being more reactive instead of proactive.

But I can't understand how supposedly educated people can keep resorting to retorts of "this is just more bitching and moaning" and "if this was against whites, no one would say anything" and "these people are just thin-skinned" and "they make fun of themselves, so why can't we?" when the issue of racial insensitivity comes up. How do these dismissive statements lead to a productive dialogue? How can you claim that your organization values diversity and character when this is the way you've chosen to respond? If these are really the qualities that fraternities such as Sigma Chi are supposed to be fostering, the whole “Hood” party and the responses such as most of those here would lead one to believe that they’re failing dismally. Such responses show a complete unwillingness to understand any point of view other than your own. The NAACP and the BSU may not be handling this situation properly, but dismissal and ridicule isn’t a proper response, either.

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Posted by: Author
Posted on: November 10, 2006 02:35 PM

I have read most of the editorials and news articles and been keeping myself appraised of any new developments. If we review the Facebook.com invitation, we will certainly can see that the author wanted a reaction to it. After there were complaints about the first version, the author went ahead and made it even more offensive.

The connection between the Facebook.com invitation and the hanging pirate costume is still subject to debate. The words "the HIV pit, ghetto, or hood" cannot prove that the hanging decoration was a mockup lynching. I just do not see that. So what if it was not a fraternity party, but another student group? What if the African-American or BSU sponsored a Halloween party and had some pirate decorations? Would anyone make a fuss about it? If a white guy was wearing a pirate costume with a noose around his neck, is that considered a racist attack against black people?

I certainly believe the actions of the invitation author was done in very poor taste. Clearly, he was been overly sarcastic with his creativity. However, accusing them of being racist is arguable. If the Halloween party did not have a "Hood" theme, no one would criticise it. If a black student group sponsored a "Hood" theme, no one would complain. If a student put up a pirate hanging decoration on his or her dorm room door, is that considered offensive to black people? What if a white student was wearing a gangsta costume, would that be offensive? I am asking these questions because it seems the incident has been blown out of proportion, and people are being overly sensitive. I am not being racially insensitive. I am pointing out that we should exercise a bit of common sense.

BSU has gone on a reactive warpath. Using the fraternity incident as their catalyst, they have questioned the University itself on whether it has done enough to improve racial relations, but in particular with African-Americans. It would seem this is their chance to push their agenda onto everyone else.

Who knows. "Hood" parties will probably be gone from their campus. Fraternities would probably offer beach or hula-hula parties, anything that would contain no racial references.

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Posted by: Alexis
Posted on: November 10, 2006 05:05 PM

Oh my god-- again, you're so hung up (no pun intended) on the stupid pirate decoration. I already acknowledged that whoever hung up that thing most likely wasn't alluding to lynching or anything racist. But someone should have realized that, if they're looking to get a reaction with that disgusting invitation, someone's going to make a connection between the two. I am not in the least surprised that, after seeing that invitation, black students went to the party to see what was going on and got upset by that. They were already set off by the invitation. "Overly sarcastic with his creativity?" That's an interesting take on that obnoxious piece of crap-- it was hardly creative. I get the impression you're intentionally downplaying the role of the invitation in all this just to make it easy for you to make the point that they're being unreasonable for getting upset over a Halloween decoration. Yes, the BSU should realize that it was just another completely thoughtless and probably unrelated act on the frat's part, but the frat (and all the rest of you being so dismissive about the reaction) should realize that how the black students could have gotten upset by this, after they'd already been antagonized by that invitation. You're so set on denouncing just the BSU and anyone else who's offended by the actions of the frat for being, in your opinion, unreasonable, and saying that they would get upset over just seeing a random hanging pirate decoration and call the person racist for that, while ignoring the context in which they saw that otherwise meaningless decoration.
I can't say whether black folks would get offended over the situations you listed. I'm not black. But I don't think you have to be black to understand how a black person would, after reading a pretty damn offensive invitation to a party, would jump, rightly or wrongly, to the conclusion that the pirate hanging from a tree outside that party would be just another hateful gesture. And again, even if the assumption was incorrect, I don't think they should be blamed for reacting that way, and I don't think that means that the frat has nothing to apologize for. You can argue all you want that whether the kid or the frat are racist is questionable. The fact is, they've come off as being racist to a lot of people. Not to you and his frat brothers, sure, but they've caused a lot of trouble for themselves and the university, and you can try to blame the BSU and the NAACP all you want, but the frat really only has itself to blame for their members' idiotic behavior ("idiotic" and not "racist" since we're apparently giving them the benefit of the doubt that they're not racist). I'm sure that kid's going to spend the next year and a half at Hopkins with other students saying behind his back, "Hey, that's that asshole who made our school/frat look bad." And a lot of people in Baltimore are just going to keep thinking, "Yeah, those frat/Hopkins kids are a bunch of brats that think they're so much better than the rest of us. Did you hear about that racist party some of them threw last Halloween?" The BSU and the NAACP are getting flak for their handling of the situation, but it's the frat, and by association, the university that look really bad, whether it's fair or not. Accusing "some people" of being "too sensitive" doesn't fix that; it just makes you look like a dismissive and condescending ass. It would be different if you were actually trying to have a dialogue with the people affected, but instead, you're obviously rolling your eyes at the situation. You, and most other people that dismiss racial insensitivity and, amazingly, racism as b.s., are so bent on writing off other people's sensibilities as "unreasonable" and "lacking common sense" just because you don't want be bothered with trying to see something from someone else's point of view.


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Posted by: Author
Posted on: November 11, 2006 01:11 AM

I think they are unreasonable with the Halloween decoration in any situation you can think of. A hanging pirate is not a mockup lynching. I could argue the case that a fellow BSU member decided to tell everyone else that the pirate decoration was a mockup lynching, and everyone would believe that. There are probably some things behind the scenes which we do not know. I cannot prove it, but it's a possiblity.

Of course we should not place all blame on BSU for making the whole incident a bigger problem than what it should be, but to suggest that the fraternity should have known that the decoration would be considered offensive is kinda ridculous. If there was no pirate decoration, the BSU students would be upset by fraternity members wearing hip-hop or gangster costumes. They would find something else that would be offensive to them.

The situation itself is really unfortunate for everyone. What if the theme of the party was different? What if the invitation was not offensive? It just makes me think that some party in the near future would generate the same reaction as this one. Would this discourage Greek organisations from hosting "theme" parties? Now everyone has a biased perception of the fraternity itself, the person who wrote the invitation, the Johns Hopkins students, and the University. This one negative event essentially negated all the positive things that the University, other student groups have done for the community. Is that really justified?

I have encountered many situations where people overly reacted to something that could be offensive. Then people, via "word of mouth" distort the facts and make the whole incident even worse. Of course I will have a constructive dialogue with the people affected, and I will gladly point out why they should look at the big picture and consider all viewpoints. It becomes difficult if certain people cast themselves as the victims, and that there is no solution except what they provided.

We are not dismissing racial insensitivity but the abuse of it via political correctness. We are becoming more fearful that what we say or do may be considered offensive to any religious, ethnic, or socio-economic group. The reactive steps the University is taking seems to be following in that direction.

How can we balance this?

I am sure the fraternity will be punished. Hopefully, an apology and some form of community service will help head the wounds, but could the BSU use this as a "warning" to everyone else not to offend them?

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Posted by: bryan
Posted on: November 11, 2006 01:07 PM

http://wjz.com/topstories/local_story_315093234.html

Maybe this is why people don't like the city of baltimore.

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Posted by: Mike
Posted on: November 13, 2006 12:09 PM

I have been following the debate between the original Author and Alexis and find that it is most educational. I would like to ask a couple of questions to you both for a response...

I have done some research into the "invitation" that was written. Supposedly the author of the note was told to redo the original and then posted a second version without having it approved. Given that the post was offensive at best to many I believe the punishment fit the crime. Knowing what the bonds of the fraternity mean to me 20+ years after I joined this is much like being rejected by your family and the young man in question will regret his stupidity the rest of his life.

I do believe that the university and fraternity are being roasted on the alter of political correctness. At what point do we draw the line? Is freedom of speech a thing of the past? When political cartoons are so "offensive" that they result in protests and mayhem by thousands of people around the world and yet many of those same individuals find nothing wrong with beheading the innocent to make their "correct" view of the world known? My point in this is that if I offend where does my punishment fit the crime? If I say something that offends someone they have every right to point that out and request an apology, but what right do they have to expect the complete distruction of my world as that apology?

Your thoughts?

Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen reportedly signs a $42.5m (?22m) film deal starring his character Bruno...

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Posted by: Ashley
Posted on: November 28, 2006 09:59 AM

I don't agree with any of you for the simple fact that you all cannot understand what black people go through on a day to day basis. It's easy for a white person to say that it is not a big deal because YOU DONT UNDERSTAND and you are not the ones who the racism is directed to. It is much more deeper than a group just having a "halloween in the hood" party. It's the principle behind the whole thing. It was racial because that group was purposefully making fun of the hip hop culture and degrading the city of baltimore ( which happens to be predominatley black) Then to add more fuel to the fire they hung a dummy up from a tree. Just that image alone can be very painful for black people because of what we been through! Let it have been a black fraternity party having a " Trailer Trash Party" or A "Craker Halloween Party" And that would have been three times the controversy in the news. That fraternity may have even been kicked out of the university all together! The fact is that that halloween party was Racist and it should not have been tolerated at all. No racism towards any particular group of people should be tolerated! So before you say the NAACP and other black organizations are stupid for the way they reacted and took offense, try to put yourself in our shoes. Get an understanding!

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Posted by: Chris
Posted on: December 3, 2006 01:59 PM

With all due respect to you Ashley, it seems like it is basically impossible, that because I'm not African American, I have absolutely no chance of getting any sort of understanding into racism. That in itself is an incredibly racist and ignorant attitude to have, especially as a member of an academic institution (are you a student?) Also, I don't live in Baltimore, but i know that in California, it DEFINITELY wouldn't have garnered 3 times the controversy...why? Because there are no "white interest" organizations to champion the rights of white people to start suing people to gain media attention. Even though the fraternity there isn't only white (but I'm sure their other minority members can't understand the situation either). In all, the chapter screwed up, and there was one vocal idiot who posted those facebook commends, that let his personal, racist thoughts stand for the chapter as a whole. Which is a problem they need to deal with, because they forgot a fundamental part of being a Sigma Chi, that being a member requires more of you than the world expects of other people, so they need to clean house, take responsibility, and move on...And I mean come on..."Get an understanding?" Jews aren't pissed off at Italians because of their insensitivity that they continue to use ovens to make their pizzas after the holocaust...

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Posted by:
Posted on: February 15, 2007 07:03 PM

I agree. No one who is not Black can fully understand the effects of the fraternity's racist party. Regardless if you try to imagine how you would feel, you will never truly know. Being upset because people are willing to fight racism is what is sad. I don't even see a problem with the theme so much, but the hanging skeleton was disrespectful. It wasn't a Pirate themed party so don't try and compare it to the movie. People should know by now that racism will always be here. It is apparent to most who look for it and to those who don't. Some people want to label anything racist as harmless because they believe racism is gone. Just because people aren't being told to pick cotton and go drink at a different fountain doesn't mean it is gone. So wise up before you start complaining. I can only hope these students really meant their apology. They make their race, college and fraternity look bad.

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Posted by: Jarrett
Posted on: February 23, 2007 12:50 PM

It's true that racism still exists and not just with African Americans but saying that a hanging pirate represents lynching is just idiotic, even at a party labeled "Halloween in the Hood". The problem I see is that groups like the NAACP and BSU are trying to fight against things that aren't truly racist. You(person above) are correct that people label racist things harmless, but many people label harmless things racist. I'm not upset that the BSU and NAACP are trying to fight racism, I'm upset that they are blowing things way out of proportion. As for your last comment, if you look at their chapter picture they are a mix of asian and caucasian...so which race are they making look bad? As I said, racism will never go away, but it just fuels the fire when people start labeling anything and everything racist.

In hoc

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