Blackface started as an attempt at entertainment by a struggling actor in the 1820’s. Apparently it is still viewed as such, a form of entertainment.
Fifteen students of Auburn University, members of Delta Sigma Phi and Beta Theta Pi, donned blackface at a Halloween party.
The fact that this happened in 2001 is appalling enough, even if it is in the South. But add to it that these students wore Omega Psi Phi t-shirts and others wore white t-shirts with FUBU handwritten on them.
One frat member even wore a noose around his neck while a student dressed as a Klu Klux Klan member pointed a gun at his head in front of a confederate flag.
Matt Furin, president of Delta Sigma Phi, apologized for the acts at a Black Student Union meeting. However, Beta Theta Pi, did not apologize.
No apology was given because they felt none was deserved. But they did feel that they deserved $300 million in compensatory and punitive damages. On Nov. 21, the Delta Zeta chapter of Beta Theta Pi filed suit against Auburn University, several administrators and the national office of Beta Theta Pi.
The Beta’s sued for compensatory and punitive damages on the basis that Auburn officials and the national office of the fraternity violated the students’ constitutional and civil rights, including freedom of speech and association, and protection granted by the Fourteenth Amendment.
The students also claim that they were defamed and falsely portrayed as racists.
Unfortunately, some of what they’re saying probably will hold up in a court of law.
One major drawback from having the freedom of speech and association, is that people will gather together and commit negative acts. It isn’t a crime, they have the right to do it. As long as they don’t cross a certain line, then they have a right to flaunt their racism.
However, they are pushing it with the rest of their accusations. Everyone is entitled to privacy, but that right is waived by posting the pictures of a “private party” on the Internet. In order to post these pictures, they must have been proud of what they portrayed.
To allay any confusion, these pictures portrayed racism. Pure and simple. They were shocking, intimidating and threatening. Just imagine the feelings of African Americans on Auburn’s campus.
But yet, the Beta’s have the audacity to claim that suspensions of members of their chapter and of their chapter made them seem racist. They made themselves seem racist.
Whenever someone gets upset, inevitably a court case results. But the laws that our founding fathers struggled and fought to conceive, that our forefathers died and became martyrs for are being misconstrued everyday.
Words that should be dear to our hearts are twisted and used to defend acts of malice and ignorance.
Although Lloyd Jordan, a Washington -based private practice attorney, feels like a public apology is necessary, an apology is just that.
A string of words carefully strung together. It does not denote honesty; it denotes a mandate.
Nothing can mandate your true feelings. Nothing can make up for, justify or defend what happened at that Halloween party.
Danielle Wright for the Editorial Board