Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
He made that statement years ago. Yet, here we are staring at and dealing with ignorance and stupidity. On Sunday, members of the ASU chapter of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity held a party in “honor” of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
At this party, there were offensive references to stereotypes of black people. It’s 2014, and we’re still confronting the immense ignorance of a history of oppression.
While I am not against fraternity parties, I am against racism. This fraternity had guests dress up in basketball jerseys and flash gang signs in pictures while drinking out of watermelon cups. If that doesn’t scream, “Hi, I just threw Martin Luther King’s dream right back into the 20th century,” I don’t know what does.
While many people think that racism is over, disturbing incidents like these remind us that there are many people willing to be politically incorrect. Racism is alive and well. When university students think it’s OK to throw a theme party that aims at a certain race and think it’s OK because it was a joke, that’s when you know that racism is still a huge problem. There’s really nothing funny about stereotypes.
This party, however, may not be completely about racism. This party demonstrates how ignorance is OK as long as people think it’s a joke. But it’s not. This shouldn’t be accepted.
Suspending the fraternity won’t solve the problem. We need to make sure that your children understand the grave mistake that they just committed. If this wasn’t on Instagram and they weren’t caught, would this be OK?
Probably. Because it’s considered a joke, it’s funny and no one would be hurt. Everyone lives happily ever after. People seem to blame it on social networks and alcohol.
But what this horrendous incident is not being blamed on is the fact that these young adults don’t understand how this was wrong in the first place.
ASU represents a diverse group of individuals. With more than 70,000 students of all races and diverse backgrounds, it’s not just the black community that’s offended. It’s all people with common sense and decency. Dr. King didn’t speak and spread the word of tolerance so that university students could throw a party where they can get mindlessly drunk and joke about racism.
TKE might be getting the heat now, but it’s only for a short while. They’ll get suspended, they’ll blame people for overreacting and then they’ll move on with their lives. What they won’t do is admit they’re wrong and learn from it.
Stupidity, I believe, doesn’t exist until ignorance enters the picture. When both come hand in hand and you start acting like you live in the ’50s, you truly represent the young adult who refuses to accept the halo of privilege in which you live.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, and while many people were celebrating his beautiful life and values this weekend, in Tempe, his dream was crushed with the sip of a drink from a watermelon cup.
Reach the columnist at Tishni.Weerasinghe@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @tishnii