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UCI Asian-American fraternity's blackface video surfaces, sparks outrage (video/poll)

Members of Lambda Theta Delta (LTD), an Asian-American fraternity at UC Irvine, created a music video inspired by the Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z collaboration,
Members of Lambda Theta Delta (LTD), an Asian-American fraternity at UC Irvine, created a music video inspired by the Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z collaboration, "Suit and Tie," that shows one of the men in blackface.
Screenshot via YouTube

UCI tells KPCC that it is looking into a video produced by members of an Asian-American fraternity that features a member in blackface, which has sparked outrage among university students and others. 

UCI public information officer Laura Rico said a student affairs team is currently conducting a review and meeting with student groups and fraternity members. Rico said the school does have procedures in place for dealing with the situation, and that they intend to "hold responsible parties accountable for their actions."

Chancellor Michael V. Drake, M.D. and Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D. issued written and video statements on the University's website, denouncing the behavior as "reprehensible" and outlining the investigation to determine next steps. 

Outrage from the UC Irvine community was echoed by an Asian-American blogger from the site Angry Asian Man:

Over the years, I've seen an abundance of racist idiocy involving fraternities, from racist ragers to hate attacks. ... The latest incident comes from UC Irvine, and it involves an Asian American fraternity.

... The brothers of UCI's Lambda Theta Delta recently posted a video (at 0:55), in which a member is seen performing in blackface. Like it ain't no big deal. I don't care about good or bad intentions, or why this video was made -- this is some ignorant shit, and the people responsible need to know it.

OC Weekly explains how the video — inspired by the Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z song, "Suit and Tie" — came into existence:

The video was created as promotion for the fraternity's annual "installs" event, which celebrates the entrance of new brothers. It was posted on YouTube with the disclaimer: "No racism intended. All fun and laughter." But many students didn't laugh. Instead, controversy and outrage ensued.

The UC Irvine community has denounced the video, responding with meetings, statements and a number of Facebook pages. Organizers and supporters marched to a meeting of the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) on Wednesday, chanting, "While there is racism, we will not rest." Members of the black community spoke out, detailing a number of recent, racially-motivated incidents.

The page Anti-Blackness at UC Irvine was posted by student government official Patrick Chen of the Associated Students UCI (ASUCI) and UCI Cross-Cultural Center. 

It's a mix of personal opinion and a loose timeline of events, beginning with a screenshot of the original video on YouTube. LTD's "2012 Rush" video, a six-minute display of brotherhood, binge drinking and even more blackface, has also surfaced. Chen writes:

In the past 12 hours, three pieces of media were made public through Facebook, all depicting anti-black/racist acts at UC Irvine. As I was part of much of what happened (though not all), here is my best try at a reasonably objective explanation of what happened...]

The Asian Pacific Student Association at UC Irvine commented Wednesday via Facebook:

It has been brought to our attention that a deeply offensive, racist video was posted by the Lambda Theta Delta fraternity at UC Irvine. 

Though this Asian American fraternity claims to be a constituent of the Asian Pacific Student Association at UC Irvine, they are not. Furthermore, their actions do not represent our organization and our actual constituency.

The video featured blackface, which has been used to caricature and stereotype individuals in the Black community. The use of blackface by LTD is blatantly ignorant and the Asian Pacific Student Association at UC Irvine strongly condemns the fraternity's actions.

The association says there's an urgent need for diversity training and "re-education" on campus and as well as an "evaluation of our institution."

Meanwhile, Lambda Theta Delta — self-described as "UC Irvine's first and largest Asian Greek fraternity" — issued an apology on its Facebook page:

First and foremost, Lambda Theta Delta sincerely apologizes for the extremely racist content of the “Suit and Tie” video. The use of black face in the video is incredibly offensive as well as insensitive. This behavior is simply unacceptable and the individuals responsible for the video have already been reprimanded within the organization prior to the public outcry to which this formal apology is responding. We want to ensure everyone that this video does not represent the views of the collective house. With that being said it does acknowledge the fact that we have some ignorant individuals within our organization, whom we have already dealt with ourselves.

"The Walking Dead" star Steve Yeun, who is Korean-American, tweeted about it:


Warning: some users may find this NSFW video offensive.


This story has been updated.