Thursday, February 7, 2013

Racist parties aren't new at Duke University

My son, King Kenney, knows a lot about parties at Duke University.  He made a name for himself, with his business partner Jeff Johnson, as the premier party promoters in Durham.  King shut down his business to move to Austin, TX last year.  He’s not surprised by the news of a racist fraternity party at Duke.

In between promoting his own parties, King worked the door for numerous parties attended by Duke Students.  “Whenever we did parties with Duke Students something happened”, he told me during a recent phone conversations.”

“I was there when they had black face night,” he continued.  “They say and do things that are really offensive.”

He told me about numerous accounts when he was called a nigger after asking students to leave the party.  “One time a student called me a nigger and placed his hands on me,” he said.  “Next thing I knew he was on the ground.”

The Kappa Sigma fraternity has been suspended at Duke University by its parent organization after a party that featured offensive Asian stereotypes, including straw conical hats.

“Things are worse for the Asian students,” King continued.  “White students are intimidated by Asians because they outperform them at Duke.”

An email sent to promote the party had several misspellings to suggest Asian-accented English and a meme based on the Kim Jung-il character in the movie “Team America: World Police,” The Chronicle, the Duke University student newspaper, reports.

This is not just about Asians, one party or one frat,” Ashley Tsai told the Chronicle. “This is a consistent thing happening. We want serious things to be done by the student body and the university so that this never happens again.”

Pictures posted online show people at the party dressed in stereotypical Asian-style clothing and a greeting that imitates Asian dialect.

King told me his departure from Durham was due, in part, to the lack of tolerance among students at Duke.  “People say Durham is the most tolerant city in America, but I was called a nigger more there than ever in Austin.”

He talked about the time he rammed the head of a student on a car after being called a nigger and pushed.  “They think they’re better because they attend Duke,” King says.  “I thought I wanted to go there, but this incident reminds me of why I moved away.”

King is preparing to attend law school.  Duke was on his list of places to attend, but too many memories of life in Durham make it hard for him to consider sharing space with those who play games with race.  It’s cruel.  It’s been going on for a long time.  It needs to come to an end.

Asian students say this type of thing happens all the time.  They’re right.  It happens to often to be swept under a bureaucratic rug.  It’s more than a party.  Students are playing games with race.  Those who play those games should be asked to take their insensitivity to another place.  Be it asking a black woman to thank her grandfather for picking the cotton that made a shirt, wearing black face to a party, or mimicking the culture of Asians, it must be stopped.

Durham may be a tolerant city, but that spirit isn’t shared by those who attend Duke University.  The truth may hurt, but the truth will set you free!

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