All it takes for a sinking sensation to take over my stomach is to have the radio or television turned to the news and hear the words “South Carolina” and “race relations” mentioned in some reporter’s segment.
Y’all know what I’m talking about. Remember what Susan Smith and Strom Thurmond both wrought? Or those drunk Carolina boys from the Borat movie who tried to litigate their way out of being known as complete morons for the rest of their lives?
Such was the induced nausea after I opened up my newspaper to learn of a “gangsta”-themed party held the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day by some Clemson University students.
Great, I thought, here we go again.
And go we did as, apparently, some pictures of the party were posted on Facebook.com and featured a young white man in blackface and a young white lady who had padded her britches to achieve a “booty” effect.
Last Tuesday, Clemson University President James Barker issued an angry statement about the party and promised a continued investigation into that evening’s festivities.
The party sponsors compounded their original thoughtlessness by committing what I would characterize as a “pussy” move by issuing an anonymous apology, “We invited all races and types of peoples and never meant any racial harm.”
There’s a couple of things that bother me about this latest installment of racially insensitive behavior from my fellow South Carolinians.
First off, I’m amazed that in this day and age there are still people dumb enough to post images of their bad behavior on the information superhighway.
Secondly, I was bugged by some academics who are willing to blame the students’ poor behavior on the media — specifically, rap music.
Venise Barry, an African-American journalism professor at the University of Iowa, told the Associated Press that the students likely don’t think their behavior is offensive because they’re imitating “gangsta” posturing displayed by black performers in rap videos.
She said, “The segment of rap music that is glamorized and popularized by the media is ‘gangsta’ rap. It has become an image that is normalized in our society. That to me explains clearly why they don’t see it as wrong.”
OK, lemme see if I got this. Black rappers who exhibit gross levels of disrespect to their own race are responsible for white kids making fun of black people through use of stereotypes.
Well, in a sentiment most recently spoken by the Great Satan Himself — Dick Cheney — I will say that this is hogwash.
Ms. Barry clearly thinks she has a reason for these white kids’ and others’ nationwide bad behavior.
I think her reason is nothing more than an excuse and a lousy one at that.
I doubt that the college experience for these kids at Clemson is very much different from mine, as I saw a bunch of kids in my generation trying to show they were above racism by engaging in racist behavior.
I can only hope that this will be chalked up to the impetuousness and naivete of youth.
When you grow up in the South, you discover along the way that there are many rules. When you’re a grown-up in the South, you’ve discovered which rules to leave on the side of the road.
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