College racism “blackballed” by Lawrence Ross

Janelle Fong/Contributing Writer

Eyes bulged and nervous laughter erupted during a presentation hosted by FIU’s National Pan-Hellenic Council, which showcased examples of the prejudice coming from Tau Kappa Epsilon, FIU’s own fraternity.

Lawrence Ross, The Los Angeles Times best-selling author, dissected the multifaceted dynamics and historical progression of modern racism that’s preventing societal equality from happening across all college campuses in his presentation titled “Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America’s Campuses.”  

The presentation displayed nearly two hours’ worth of footage exposing mockery against black people and other minorities like Asians, Latinos and Native Americans across all spectrums of college, especially in Greek life.

Examples ranged from singing chants about lynching slaves, to Mexicans in U.S. border patrol themed parties, to hazing new pledges of a frat house with slave outfits as part of the initiation process.

“You know, nobody wants to be labeled a racist. Nobody wants to say that they are actually doing racist things. Even racists don’t consider themselves to be racist,” said Ross.

He bashed the common bystander approach of ignorance involved in the denial and admittance of societal prejudice that occurs everywhere.

Ross also stressed weak defense tactics racists often use, like justifying a racist action or comment as a “playful” joke without expecting backlash, as well as the associating with or befriending someone who’s massively different than themselves.

Between moments of overwhelming cheer and shrugged shoulders, Ross joyously said, “We don’t care about your black best friend — you’re still a racist!”  

Ross also tapped into the white privileged level of “normalcy,” and the entire crowd then grew silent as he made them question some things. He discussed the concept of race being a “social construct” that somehow gave way to historically assumed structure and why Caucasian features are the basic standard of comparison and greatness in society.

Referencing images of black people with signs posted of their “different” hair, Ross included himself in the example of his own hair as some indescribably-fascinating rarity to some.

But the more common examples of white supremacy in the slideshow was between the infamous n-word commentary and the “blackface” appearances on Snapchat pictures and videos.

After the lecture, a member of TKE — which was recently suspended after spreading anti-Semitic memes, rape jokes and nude photos of female students in a group chat — approached Ross because he heard that he was featured in the slideshow and wanted to defend his actions.

Identifying as “both Jewish and Hispanic,” he said to Ross that he regretted putting himself in the predicament that highlights the precise struggles the entire country is facing.

As other audience members started to listen in on the conversation between the two, they began chiming in with their opinions of frustration, eventually leading to a heated argument in which Ross had to intervene in.

Ultimately wanting the student to realize he had to take full advantage of “an opportunity” he had been given to admit his wrongdoing if it was genuine, Ross suggested the student make a public apology on behalf of the participants, involving the Interfraternity Council and Ross himself in it if need be.

Emphatically, Ross said to the attentive crowd, “Remember, racism and anti-Semitism are always tied to violence.”

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