Monday, November 25, 2013

Frat Follies, Redux

Another major bit of stupidity from Cal Poly "Greeks."  Some goofus dreamed up a "Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos" party, which hit the papers and everyone properly rolled their eyes and said, "Oh, Jeeze, not again?" 

Yes, again.  Who could forget another party at Halloween that saw some twits decorating the party site with a Confederate flag, a noose and some racial references that nobody with half a brain could miss.  Wink-nudge, wink nudge, know what I mean?

And so Cal Poly has to rush around and help mitigate the kind of "message" that these idiotic pranks have on a diverse student body that does, indeed, get the message. And everyone is left wondering, are all Cal Poly students this stupid, or is that gene somehow self-selected in kids who join the whole "Greek" culture? Or maybe wonder if kids nowadays are just cruel as well as clueless?

All possibilities, of course, but I wonder if there's a third answer:  Kids nowadays may not know real history, especially when it comes to how minorities have fared both in this country or in the world.  Could anybody who has studied Jim Crow America ever claim that there's harmless humor in juxtaposing a Confederate flag and a noose? Or been very familiar with the real history of Native Americans (which means do more than just watch Disney's "Pocahontas.") and then think it'd be swell fun to have a Nava-Ho party? And after studying the Holocaust, would the idea of hosting a Bergen-Belsen Bash (Nazi uniforms and black and white prisoner garb required) ever occur to anybody sane?

Unlikely.  As it is, I don't think kids nowadays have a good grounding in history.  I know I sure didn't when I was in high school.  Back then, utter denial was the order of the day.  Yes, yes, we skimmed over Custer and the taming of the west, and slavery, but in the most superficial way.  And while I was living through a real-time Black History lesson (the civil rights struggle) it wasn't until I returned to  college much later, that the University required at least one class in Native American Studies or Black Studies.  (Now, I'm sure there's other disciplines in Women's studies, Chicano studies, etc. available).  Those classes and extensive reading on my own, gave me a far clearer picture of what being a minority in a majority culture is like.  How history can be used to distort and deny, how images and coded language can be used to send a message and so maintain control and how a smiley-faced fake history can maintain the status quo. 

And how, if all you know about "Indians" is dressing up as a turkey in your grade school Thanksgiving pageant, how easy it is to think Nava-Hos is funny.

Universities and Jr. Colleges find a real need to require students to take remedial math and English classes since many students just aren't prepared for college course work.  I would suggest maybe Cal Poly might want to offer a required workshop to all incoming freshman that would include Cultural Awareness, the dangers of alcohol abuse and a personal safety refresher lesson on rape/date rape.

The kids involved in this latest piece of nonsense are, I'm sure, good kids, who would not knowingly be cruel to anyone.  But because they really didn't know much of anything, it was easy to cross lines they were never taught were there.  When they know better, they'll do better.

Like all kids everywhere.    


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What do you know about kids, Ann? You raised Ron from a broken egg and look what a yolk he turned out to be.