So, if you haven’t read Joz’s post about the UC Irvine frat debacle, Lambda Theta Delta at UC Irvine, an Asian American Fraternity, has suspended its own status as a UC Irvine organization for one year, until fall 2014 because of the racist blackface video made to promote one of its school events.
Clearly, those kids need to take responsibility for their egregiously stupid actions. However, I’m going to stretch this one and blame it partly on the fact that we don’t have enough Asian Pacific American history taught at the K-12 level. I can’t imagine these guys didn’t share it with a bunch of their friends and other people at the frat and university before going public with it, and I can’t believe no one said “Hey, guys, you know, there’s this whole history with that blackface thing…”
Why am I talking about APIA history when this UC Irvine frat event was about blackface? Because blackface is equivalent to yellowface. If these kids and all their friends, family, and peers had a stronger sense of the APIA experience, a better understanding of all the racism, bigotry, ignorance, and cancerous hate that weakens our society, the stupidity of the *concept* of this video would not have even seen the light of day.
When I was in high school, history was my most detested subject. It was a completely meaningless subject to me, full of dry reading, dull worksheets, and mind-numbing multiple choice questions. In World History class, all of Asia was reduced to a single chapter, and you can forget Asian American history.
Textbooks and curriculum standards are a little better now, but in the heavily Asian American population of Southern California, there’s just not enough APIA history being taught in the classrooms to make it RELEVANT to the lives of the students. And once history is relevant to students, they will realize that history is THEIR story, and that knowledge of the past should guide the choices of the present and the building of the future.
But no, we don’t have a strong APIA history curriculum in American public schools, so you get young APIA like these guys and all of their peers, friends, and family, who make videos like this that set us all back 150 years in U.S. History. Nice going.
Granted, being in a frat means most people already lower the bar on expectations of maturity and forethought, but hey, we’re only as strong as our weakest link.