UC Irvine Asian American Lambda Theta Delta Fraternity’s Blackface Video

Screenshot courtesy of Colorlines

Screenshot courtesy of Colorlines

On April 16, 2013, fraternity Lambda Theta Delta (LTD), UC Irvine’s first and largest Asian American interest fraternity, posted a video which showed one of the members appearing in blackface (around the 0:55 mark).

Julianne Hing of Colorlines says, “the video includes four Asian-American men dancing to Justin Timberlake’s Suit and Tie to promote the spring induction of the fraternity’s new recruits. One man in blackface plays the part of Jay-Z. It is the very definition of bad taste. I watched as much of it as I could stomach and cringed during the worst of it.”

A week later, LTD posted an apology on their Facebook page:

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. 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. 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 video itself was not a fraternity directed project but rather a video made individuals within the organization. We assure you that the video was neither pre-approved by the leadership nor the house. The house was not aware of its production until it was released into the realm of public media. Namely it was first published onto Facebook by these individuals and was immediately removed when other members, NOT IGNORANT of the history and oppressive nature of the use of blackface, learned of it. We did not realize that it was still in existence and believed it to be a grave mistake of a few members who were reprimanded for their actions.

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. We apologize for its creation as well as any mental anguish the production has caused to the community. We did not realize it was still in circulation as the house intended its complete deletion for its extremely insensitive content.

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.

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