UC Irvine Fraternity Issues Apology After Blackface Video Sparks Outrage
IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — A fraternity at UC Irvine has issued a public apology after video of a member in blackface went viral, inciting fury throughout the community.
Members of Lambda Theta Delta are depicted dressed in suits and lip syncing to Justin Timberlake single Suit & Tie, featuring rapper Jay-Z.
When the rapper is introduced in the song, another member gestures toward the camera, his face painted in black make-up.
The video identifies Justin T. Nguyen, Tony D. Duong and Philip Lam as the students on camera. Rainier Nanquil is identified as the LTD member portraying Jay-Z.
Made to welcome new members, the video was as released on LTD’s YouTube page on April 16, with the caption: “DISCLAIMER: No racism intended.”
Students of all ethnicities are shocked.
“It’s very offensive. Blackface originated back in times when African-Americans were thought of as less human so bringing it up now takes us back 100 years or so,” one UC Irvine student told KCAL9′S Rachel Kim.
Blackface, a form of theatrical make-up, originated in the 19th century with the performance of minstrel shows and is credited with contributing to stereotypes of African-Americans.
LTD President Darius Obana said the organization is regretful about the incident.
“We sincerely apologize if we offended anyone whatsoever. On behalf of my brothers who were involved in the video, know that it was unintentional. But unintentional or not we do know that it was wrong,” he said.
The video has since been removed from the organization’s YouTube page, although it remained accessible via the video-sharing website at press time.
The campus has been in an uproar since it began circulating across the internet.
The Asian Pacific Student Association at UC Irvine posted a response on its Facebook page on Wednesday, calling the video “deeply offensive” and “blatantly ignorant.”
“It has been brought to our attention that a deeply offensive, racist video was posted by the Lambda Theta Delta fraternity at UC Irvine,” the post read.
“The video featured blackface, which has been used to caricature and stereotype individuals in the Black community. The use of blackface by LTD is blatantly ignorant and the Asian Pacific Student Association at UC Irvine strongly condemns the fraternity’s actions…”
The organization denied having any affiliation with Lamba Theta Delta, the university’s largest Asian Greek fraternity.
LTD released a response to rampant criticism for the act via Facebook on Wednesday, acknowledging the “incredibly offensive” nature of the video.
“First and foremost, Lambda Theta Delta sincerely apologizes for the extremely racist content of the “Suit and Tie” video. The use of black face in the video is incredibly offensive as well as insensitive,” the post read.
Members of LTD involved in its production have been reprimanded within the organization, according to the statement, which noted the video was not sanctioned by the fraternity, nor approved for release.
“We want to ensure everyone that this video does not represent the views of the collective house. With that being said it does acknowledge the fact that we have some ignorant individuals within our organization, whom we have already dealt with ourselves,” the post continued.
“The collective house is aware of the great ignorance of the video as it perpetuates a gravely offensive stereotype against African-Americans. Rest assured that the individuals have already been punished for their actions and it is an issue we have already addressed within the house.
“Regardless of the circumstances, the video proves the existence of racism and ignorance today. Lambda Theta Delta in no way promotes these values nor perpetuates them. The ignorance and bigotry of the content is intolerable. We extend our deepest and most sincere apologies to the community for the extremely insensitive transgression.”
The statement has done little to satisfy angry members of the community, who rallied at a Multicultural Greek Council meeting on Wednesday.
“While there is racism, we will not rest,” protestors chanted.
The incident has brought to light other allegations of racism upon the fraternity.
Student Patrick Chen claimed the video “is only the latest in a series of disturbing and racist actions perpetrated against the black community,” in a Facebook post.
Chen linked to video of a Fall 2012 LTD rush event which purportedly shows “that the fraternity had hosted a party where one person donned blackface as a costume/caricature of Antoine Dodson.”
“Additionally, another partygoer is wearing a costume of a sombrero and poncho, ostensibly a “Mexican costume,”" Chen wrote.
The ASUCI is responsible for representing the academic, athletic, and recreational interests of Irvine students, according to its website.
Officials at UC Irvine had not yet issued a statement at press time.