Trigger warning!  If you’re sensitive this might upset you.  Or you could just grow up…


Merry Cripmas!

So here we have controversy of the week, brewing in Clemson, SC, my neck of the woods.  (Disclaimer:  never went to Clemson. We Are Marshall! Let’s Go Mountaineers!)  In a nutshell, a fraternity at Clemson University held a gathering called Cripmas, in which the theme was ‘gangsta.’  Attendees wore gang colors and attire and struck poses with gang signs.  A link to the story is below.

Another link to the story at CNN had an actual trigger warning, saying that the story might be upsetting to readers.  (A story designed to highlight injustice, but so egregious you might not want to read about it, so just go back to your room and suck your thumb?)  See below.  But be careful for heaven’s sake!  You might be scarred for life!

This tale of woe is making its way around the Internet as further evidence of the racial divide in the country, and specifically the racial divide at Clemson.  Doubtless there will be no end to the media deconstruction and evaluation of the event.  Sensitive souls all over America are stocking up on Kleenex, and preparing to deliver speeches apologizing for their own privilege and insensitivity, and I’m sure that no small number of Clemson students are preparing to cry out:  ‘Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!’

(Incidentally, despite the apparent racial tensions at Clemson, Clemson students were ranked the third happiest student body I America.  Read it and weep for the future:  Not exactly the sort of place you’d expect vicious racism, you know?)

While I can understand the concerns over the deaths of Brown and Garner, I find this one puzzling.  (Maybe it’s my white privilege…who knows?)  The students (and in the picture, nobody is dressed in black-face or anything so obviously racial) are dressed up to parody members of a violent gang (although from what I can tell, they may have their colors wrong).  Now, one might consider that a bad idea prima facia.  We don’t go to parties dressed like SS officers or slave-owners.

But to say that it’s a sign of disrespect to the African-American community?  Not sure I’m getting it.  The Crips, very influential and powerful in the American gang world, are a large gang originally based in Los Angeles.  They were first organized in 1969, and currently have 30,000 to 35,000 members across the United States, chiefly in California, Florida and Illinois.  Members are mostly African-American, but also include, Whites, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders.  The Crips are a violent organization, heavily involved in the drug trade.  I feel confident that the number of young black men killed by the Crips in outright violence, or dead from the use of the drugs they sell, is far and away more than the number killed any given year by white police officers.  (Not to defend either, but just saying…)

So if you tell me that dressing up like this for ‘Cripmas’ is disrespectful because the African-American community is repudiating the violence done by gangs, then I’m on board.  Poor choice.  But if you tell me it’s because that same community holds gangs in high regard and won’t tolerate having them parodied or insulted, then I’m confused!  Help me understand!

The thing is, there’s no end to this line of reasoning.  It means that if anyone dresses up like a Hillbilly, they’re disrespecting rural White Culture.  And if they dress in grass skirts they’re disrespecting Pacific-Islanders.  And if they dress like a Wall-Street CEO, they’re disrespecting White Anglo-Saxon Protestants.  Except actually, it’s worse.  It’s like saying that dressing up as Mafia members is to disrespect all Italians and Sicilians, or that to go to have a ‘Communist Party’ where everyone dressed like Chairman Mao would be to insult all Chinese; as if he represented something that all Chinese persons value highly.  (Even though many Chinese suffered horribly under Mao.)  Before long, the only acceptable costumes will be geometric shapes.  ‘This year’s hottest costume, Naughty tetrahedron!’

Since this happened at a college, I suggest there are only two possible solutions.

First, we all toughen up a little bit.  As an Appalachian kid from WV, I’ve been accused of incest, ignorance and poor dental hygiene more times than I can recall.  Not everything is a catastrophic blow to the ego.  My revenge has always been the fact that I’m happy and proud of myself, my family and my heritage.

Second, we simply stop having college.  Let’s be honest.  We’re now dealing with allegations of a college rape epidemic (despite falling rates of sexual assault) and the apparent endless privilege and insensitivity of college-aged children, who (as the news would portray it) don’t know how not to insult anyone.  There’s also the soaring debt associated with college (see Glenn Reynolds’ book The Higher Education Bubble:  And there’s the painful absence of meaningful employment for those who actually complete their degrees.  As college goes, we may as well toss in the towel. College, today, is nothing but destructive. If you believe the news, that is.  Except for the fact that it provides a nearly endless supply of young people who are both extraordinarily sensitive to race and culture and also remarkably incapable of thinking through the implications of their actions…and costumes.  Oh, and it keeps Apple in business.

So parents, pick up your kids and colleges, print out some refund checks!  College, that place of stupid mistakes where we used to mature into adults, that place where we faced conflicting values and ideas and learned to respect even if we differed, that place where nobody really cared what costume anybody wore because they were stupid, drunk college students anyway, well that place is now finished.  Sensitivity is the theme of the day.

Trade school anyone?

Just be careful what you wear to the parties.





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