Arizona State University’s Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity held a Martin Luther King Jr. Day party, which featured students and fraternity members “dressing” and “acting” “black.”
The students partied and drank from watermelon cups, wore baggy pants, baseball caps, jerseys and bandanas. Photos also circulated on social media with hashtags such as “#blackoutformlk,” “#ihaveadream,” “#hood” and captions such as “Happy MLK day homie.”
“Being better men for a better world” is their motto.
When I first heard about the fraternity, I saw no humor or fun in this. I thought to myself, “This is real,” and instead of celebrating everything King fought for, they were doing the exact opposite by mocking African-American culture. Furthermore, it made me think of the concept “groupthink.” Is anyone thinking for themselves anymore?
Groupthink was first brought to my attention when I saw Erykah Badu’s video, “Window Seat,” off of her album “New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh.”Badu walks across the grassy knoll, stripping off her clothes. She is then shot and falls to the ground. Instead of blood gushing from her head, the word “groupthink” trickles out in cursive writing on the sidewalk.
In a 2010 interview at Tobago Jazz Festival, Badu explained the significance of the window and suggested that evolving takes a lot of bravery. She talked about people being ostracized and assassinated for being different and separating themselves from the group they feel they should “fit in.”
Coined by Irving Janis in 1972, the term groupthink refers to a psychological phenomenon in which people strive for consensus within a group. This leads to a deviant or incorrect outcome. It suppresses the desire for someone to speak on his own opinion.
Part of me feels as though the TKE fraternity planned the party without the intent to harm or offend people while the other part of me feels as though they did it for attention. However, they didn’t thoroughly think about the negative publicity the school or fraternity would receive, which has resulted in suspension.
I was born in 1990, an era where hip-hop made it cool for men and women to wear baggy clothing. It was a fashion statement. Now we live in an era where African-American men are beginning to wear their jeans more fitted and shirts a little tighter. I guess the ASU partiers are ignorant as well as blind in their sense of “black” fashion.
For the record, I’ve never known a black person to drink from a watermelon like a cup. So lame. I personally don’t follow trends because styles come and go, but my style is forever.