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Blackface parody video at UC Irvine reminds students of past racism

UC IrvineSocial IssuesCrime, Law and JusticeMusicEntertainmentMartin Luther King Jr.

A member of a UC Irvine fraternity seen wearing blackface in a parody music video isn’t the first time charges of racism have been lobbed at the campus community, students said.

“This blackface video isn’t the first, nor is it the last, example of racism that’s been shown on this campus,” UCI Black Student Union co-chairwoman Ainaria Johnson told the Daily Pilot.

In 2011, the campus cafeteria served chicken and waffles on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Officials at UC Irvine have launched an investigation after a public outcry over the recent video, which involved four students doing a parody of a song that included mimicking of performers such as Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z.

The student portraying Jay-Z in the parody was in blackface, said Thomas Parham, UC Irvine's vice chancellor for student affairs.

Many on the campus were outraged after seeing the video.

He said an investigation into the actions of the students, as well as their fraternity, Lambda Theta Delta, was underway and would determine whether any disciplinary action or sanctions are warranted.

"What we have to investigate is whether it's just individuals or just an organization or whether it's both that are responsible," Parham said.

The fraternity posted an apology on its Facebook page Wednesday, saying the group "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 fraternity said in its lengthy post. "This behavior is simply unacceptable and the individuals responsible for the video have already been reprimanded within the organization prior to the public outcry to which this formal apology is responding."

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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