The "racist rager" parties organized across U.S. college campuses shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore.
But a recent "phi-esta" party planned by members of a fraternity at the University of Southern California (USC) caught my eye for two reasons:
1) It was a Mexican-themed event and the USC campus is literally surrounded by Latinos: the communities that surround USC are all predominantly Latino. The most recent Census data also found Latinos make up 47.7% of the population in Los Angeles, with Mexicans making up the majority of the group.
2) A Mexican-American USC student saw a flyer for the party and wrote an op-ed in the school newspaper. She shut the party down, got the frat that was throwing the party to apologize and had the members organizing the event expelled from the fraternity.
According to the op-ed written by Melissa Morales the invitation invited party-goers to "bring their ‘sombreros and accentos to a night of classy fun.’"
Here’s an excerpt from the op-ed written Morales, a junior at USC studying political science.
I love a fiesta and a good margarita as much as the next girl, but not when it is just an excuse to make racist jokes and poke fun at a different culture. There is a big difference between celebrating a culture and mocking it.
A few hours after the event was posted, the description was edited to include "what not to expect": "border patrol, pickpockets, those kids selling you chicle gum, [and] Montezuma’s Revenge." Classy, indeed.
Is this what Mexican culture has been reduced to? An entire country, an entire people, an entire tradition is recognized solely by negative stereotypes. Is it not possible to hold a party without the predictably offensive costumes and mocking accents? Will it be less of a good time if guests refrain from obvious racism? I highly doubt it.
It is offensive that race is so easily used as a party theme. This is not the first "fiesta" and I am sure that it will not be the last, but I’m not waiting for the party to be over before I speak up. I’m not waiting for the pictures of drawn-on mustaches, illegal immigrants and gardeners to make the rounds on Facebook. I’m not waiting for my heritage to be ridiculed before I start my protest.
This is my protest. This is me speaking up for what I believe in. This is me taking a stand.
Though I find this event to be utterly disrespectful, I mostly just find it disappointing. I refuse to believe that other students on the USC campus — other members of the Trojan family — can be so ignorant and reckless. We live in Southern California with one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the country, yet we still face situations like these.
If you read this and think I am overreacting, then I am sorry for you. I am sorry that you do not understand.