Everyone’s a racist these days. Ignoring the fact that we are living in the most progressive time, and one of the most progressive places in history, everyone’s a racist. Political correctness and cultural sensitivity are becoming so over-enforced that it’s actually causing political incorrectness. I know people who are uncomfortable saying the words “black people” for fear that black people may get offended, or that the words “black people,” or “Asian” or “Muslim” must be whispered, as they’re inherently racist words, which is beyond absurd, and untrue…and actually, kind of racist.
In today’s episode of “Everyone’s Racist,” I bring you University of California, Irvine’s FIJI, and their FIJI Islander philanthropy event put on every year for charity. The Asian Pacific Student Association has come out and spoken in opposition to the event, because the coconut bras and grass skirts worn were offensive to their culture. The initial upset was pretty standard.
1) Take off the name “FIJI Islander” from your event
2) Stop using coconut trees and other stereotypical displays of Fiji Islanders and Islanders in general
3) Do some extensive research before you conduct these sorts of events especially when doing it under the banner of “FIJI Islander”
4) Tell members of your organization to stop wearing our traditional/cultural attires, they don’t know jack shit about its cultural significance
“Extensive research” is always the argument. Your luau isn’t actually representative of a real luau, therefore it is offensive — it’s always the claim. I was always under the impression that no one actually thought that these parties were supposed to give you an authentic experience of another culture — this isn’t Epcot, for fuck’s sake. With the limited funds and resources available to most fraternities, they put together an event that is mildly representative of an overall theme, not an exact replica of its traditions. This is what party-throwers and costume-wearers do.
On one side, you’ll see a photograph of a girl (okay, it’s me) dressed as a baby. Beside it, you’ll see an actual baby. As you may notice, I’m not actually wearing baby clothing, and the baby is not actually wearing lingerie. I used my limited funds and resources to put together a recognizable costume, though it’s not at all representative of actual babies. Neither babies, nor new parents were offended, because that would literally be unfathomably ridiculous.
Of course, no one sees it this way. Every theme will soon be considered “offensive.” That’s not conjecture, it’s fact. Theme parties will probably cease to exist in the future, and that sucks, because everyone knows it’s all in good fun, but when people say “we’re offended,” it’s very hard to argue “well you shouldn’t be.”
Unfortunately, for poor FIJI, the list of demands from APSA get worse, and frankly, unfair. In addition to their punishment for the CHARITY EVENT they threw (every year…without ever being told not to), and the school-mandated “discussions” about cultural sensitivity, the organization listed the following demands.
1) Phi Gamma Delta at UCI end the use of “FIJI” as a name for their fraternity
2) Phi Gamma Delta end the annual “FIJI Islander” social and philanthropic events so as they are not to be “Fiji” or “tropical” themed. It is possible to host social and philanthropic events without appropriating a people’s name and culture
3) Phi Gamma Delta issue a public apology demonstrating that they acknowledge the racist nature of both their appropriation of the “Fiji” name and their conduct at the “FIJI Islander” party
APSA is urging that Phi Gamma Delta, established in 1848, no longer go by its NAME, as has been used since 1894 — 120 years. Many of you may know that FIJI finds their letters so sacred that even initiated members aren’t worthy of wearing them. Instead, their clothing and fraternity paraphernalia are emblazoned with “FIJI” so the brothers can still show their pride, while upholding the fraternity’s tradition. Stripping them of that is honestly a disservice, and a cruel one at that. Fiji, the island, does not own the word, and APSA asking this of the fraternity directly implies that their traditions and values are more important than the fraternity’s, and that, my friends, is insensitivity at its finest. Irony is fun.
Image via Visual Itineraries