Crossing the line

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Remember when going to college made you smarter? Not so at some colleges nationwide.

While people of many races celebrated the life and legacy of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the days surrounding his birthday last month, some college parties around the country raged with a single disturbing theme: denigrating blacks.

At Tarleton State University in Dallas, revelers sported do-rags and carried bottles of Aunt Jemima brand syrup. University of Connecticut Law School students held a "Bullets & Bubbly" bash, with partygoers sporting malt liquor and fake gold teeth.

But Clemson University students threw perhaps the worst party of all - not only for flogging any number of offensive racial stereotypes, but also for giving the party a sickening title that is a slap in Dr. King's face: "Living the Dream."

More like a nightmare.

Certainly, "gangsta" culture as portrayed in the media - people wearing absurdly baggy pants and sporting a bored indifference toward anything except money, guns, drugs and easy sex - would seem ripe for parody.

Well, it is and it isn't.

It is if you're talking about the cinematic granddaddy of gangsta parody, the 1996 movie Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. It's hardly Academy Award material, but it works for what it does: It pokes fun at the gangsta lifestyle as shown in earlier films such as Boyz N the Hood and Menace II Society.

The reason it works is because Don't Be a Menace was conceived and executed by black entertainers, who are able to successfully defuse controversial aspects of black culture with humor. When people - any people - poke fun at their own backgrounds, it doesn't come off as hateful. That's why Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy can successfully crack redneck jokes to appreciative audiences - the audiences know the men aren't speaking from hate, but a shared experience.

The same can't be said of these shameful college parties.

People choose to walk a thin cultural tightrope these days when they decide to make sweeping generalizations about people of other backgrounds. Beware.

We're not talking about embracing political correctness here. We're talking about exercising common sense, showing some respect.

It's no secret that white youths have long mimicked black youths - in their dress, their language, their music and more. But there's a line between mimicry and mockery, and that line's been crossed.

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patriciathomas 02/03/07 - 11:27 am
The Black man can say

The Black man can say anything he wants about anyone without being hateful, deprecating or disparaging. The White man must always walk on eggshells all of the time. What a fine article. Your effort to make this a biased comment on both races was successful. High school and college kids are cruel. Black and White. This kind of abrasive article encourages Blacks to be ultra sensitive. This is a very politically correct piece.

mgroothand 02/03/07 - 01:49 pm
The "gangsta" life style,

The "gangsta" life style, where the initiation sometimes includes murder, should be mocked, not mimicked. Often it starts in early classrooms where young black kids are mocked for trying to do well, therefore being a whitey or a cracker. As they grow up, (if they're lucky) they are tempted and sometimes forced to make bad choices that includes the gangsta lifestyle. It's attractive... they belong... and they easily adopt the badmouth rap and slang where women are either b***ches or ho's. The bling-bling is king and showing one's underwear is cool.
That white fraternity parties on private grounds should mock that is only natural, although their timing was not so cool. When white groups totally mimick such behavior then that problem worsens exponentially.

intheknow 02/03/07 - 05:56 pm
Please get yourself some

Please get yourself some therapy. I do not know what happen to you in your life but everything you post has to do with how dumb, sensitive or racist blacks are. Take a look in your mirror before you throw stones.

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