A fraternity's blackface video has sparked outrage on the campus of UC Irvine. Lambda Theta Delta, a primarily Asian-American organization, shot and produced a music video for the Justin Timberlake song "Suit & Tie," but one of the members posed as rapper Jay-Z while wearing brown face paint.
The fraternity's blackface video, intended to promote new brothers joining their ranks, was posted April 16 on the internet. Despite the disclaimer posted alongside the video— "No racism intended, all fun and laughter"— many were outraged at the blackface, which historically was used in American minstrel shows to humiliate African-Americans with racial stereotypes.
"First of all, we'd like to point out that this blackface video isn't the first, nor is it the last, example of racism that's been shown on this campus," Ainaria Johnson, co-chair of UCI's Black Student Union, told The Los Angeles Times. African-Americans are only 2.6 percent of the campus' 27,000 students.
"I feel personally offended at that act whether it was for ignorance, whether they just didn't know about it, I feel like that's not an excuse," Ayana Baines, a member of the campus' BSU, told KABC-TV.
Soon, the video was taken down, and the fraternity apologized, labeling the content as "extremely racist," "incredibly offensive" and "insensitive" to the African-American community. The Facebook statement insisted that the members involved "have already been reprimanded."
The chapter also tried to distance itself from the incident by explaining that the video was not intended to offend; the member wearing blackface popped up halfway through the song in a similar manner to Jay-Z, who was featured on Timberlake's "Suit & Tie" single.
"In a nutshell it was pretty much just to player that role and be Jay-Z and kind of distinguish himself from the other guys in the video," Lambda Theta Delta President Darius Obana said.
The fraternity may not come away from the incident unscathed, however. UCI administration is considering disciplining the students involved.
"Once that investigation is concluded, we will determine where the facts lie, what appropriate measures should be taken, and if discipline is called for," UCI Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Thomas Parham told KABC-TV.