On Friday we wrote about the settlement agreed to by Cure Lounge, a club in Boston that was accused of discriminating against African-American patrons. In the comments, it seemed like some of our Southern readers where all too happy to point out that this example of racist behavior took place in the North.
Lord knows I’ve never said that racism is an exclusively Southern phenomenon. But I’ve met enough Southerners to know that they sometimes feel unfairly maligned just because of their Confederate past. Sure, I could argue that only Southerners would come up with the name like “Lady Antebellum” for a band — and only Southerners would defend that name as “merely” referring to a time before the Civil War, as if I’m supposed to be the idiot who forgets what was happening in the South before the Civil War. But whatever, the point is taken, modern racism exists North and South, East and West, probably in relatively equal “amounts,” if such a thing could be quantified.
But still, you have to give the South credit. When they go for it, they always seems to have more flair. They have a — what’s the word? — one might say “cavalier” way, at least at UVA Law, of going about racial intolerance.
It would be charming, if it wasn’t so damn disgusting…
During the month of February, UVA Law has something called Feb Club. Basically, students host themed parties throughout the month. That seems like a smart thing to do; some say February is the cruelest month for law students. And with one set of exams over, while the next set is a long way off, law students have enough time to party to their hearts’ content.
Of course, whenever you get into theme-party territory, there’s a risk that someone will get offended. Remember those Tulane Law students who went with a “border patrol” party a couple of years back? We live in a world where we must tread carefully when coming up with brilliant themes. That’s why I like to keep my themes simple: “Super Bowl,” “Poker,” “Intervention.” The only people who get offended at my parties are vegetarians and people who can’t drink ’cause they’re taking “antibiotics.”
In any event, the “theme” of one UVA Feb Club party wasn’t racist; it was perfectly acceptable. That’s what makes the execution of the party so damn confusing, offensive, and wholly unnecessary. A tipster reports:
On Saturday, February 26th, the party theme was “Partly Like a Rock Star.” This party featured a live band, dancing, and beer pong. Dozens of UVa students attended the party and nonchalantly tossed ping-pong balls into their opponents’ cups on tables adorned with confederate flags.
I overheard a student refer to one of the few black people in attendance as a “n****r.” To my chagrin, no one who heard seemed to have a problem with what was said.
Scenes like this are far too common at Mr. Jefferson’s University. Let this serve as a cautionary tale to any perspective student considering UVa Law.
Yeah, we’ve got “art”:
UPDATE (8:05 PM): Additional pics of the party, which was held at a fraternity house, appear on the Feb Club blog.
UPDATE (8:50 PM): The links to the Feb Club blog are now dead.
Jesus kids, what the hell is wrong with you? Seriously, even if you personally don’t understand what is so offensive about it, can’t you at least understand that other people are deeply offended by it? And if you’re going to roll that way, deeply offending whomever you can (it’s a free country), couldn’t you at least have a point?
I think it’s the casualness that bothers me most. You’re throwing a party, you want people to have a good time — does nobody say, “Oh, dude, what’s up with the beer pong table? Not cool.” No black or white student brought this up? Everybody just milled around like it was no big deal? The symbol of a people who went to war to defend their right to hold others in bondage, and you’re playing beer pong off of it?
It’s a cautionary tale indeed — but not a particularly surprising one. Racism exists, North, South, East, West, and everywhere in between. But I guarantee you that the NYU Law kids won’t be unfurling any Confederate paraphernalia on the Lower East Side this weekend. The UCLA Law kids aren’t going to be ripping hits from a bong they call Bobby Lee this weekend (well, maybe they will, but it’ll be funny and ironic when they do).
Of course, I say this from the comfort of my northern enclave. “Reasonable” people will disagree, no?
UPDATE (3/1/11, 1:15 PM): More over at Gawker.