Another #NoMames Frat Moment: USC Mexican-Themed ‘Racist Rager’ Party Gets Shut Down

Feb 23, 2013
3:17 PM

We got this one from our friends at Colorlines, who reported it yesterday, and here we go again with Frats Gone Racist. You would think that after #NoMames moments at the University of Chicago, Baylor, Penn State, and Duke , sororities and fraternities would get a clue. Guess not.

no mames

Here’s the latest example, and it comes from USC. According to Colorlines, an op-ed by student Melissa Morales published in the Daily Trojan led to the party eventually ever happening. Here is a bit of what Morales wrote:

Now, only two weeks later, a fraternity at USC is throwing its very own “racist rager.” The brothers of Pi Kappa Phi are holding a “phi-esta.” That in itself does not seem too concerning, but when accompanied by a blatantly racist photo and a statement saying that partygoers should bring their “sombreros and accentos to a night of classy fun,” the mockery starts to peek through. The description then goes on to clear up any confusion about what to wear by encouraging viewers to look to the photo depicting two shirtless Mexican men in sombreros for inspiration.

I love a fiesta and a good margarita as much as the next girl, but not when it is just an excuse to make racist jokes and poke fun at a different culture. There is a big difference between celebrating a culture and mocking it.

A few hours after the event was posted, the description was edited to include “what not to expect”: “border patrol, pickpockets, those kids selling you chicle gum, [and] Montezuma’s Revenge.” Classy, indeed.

Is this what Mexican culture has been reduced to? An entire country, an entire people, an entire tradition is recognized solely by negative stereotypes. Is it not possible to hold a party without the predictably offensive costumes and mocking accents? Will it be less of a good time if guests refrain from obvious racism? I highly doubt it.

It is offensive that race is so easily used as a party theme. This is not the first “fiesta” and I am sure that it will not be the last, but I’m not waiting for the party to be over before I speak up.
I’m not waiting for the pictures of drawn-on mustaches, illegal immigrants and gardeners to make the rounds on Facebook. I’m not waiting for my heritage to be ridiculed before I start my protest.

This is my protest. This is me speaking up for what I believe in. This is me taking a stand.

Though I find this event to be utterly disrespectful, I mostly just find it disappointing. I refuse to believe that other students on the USC campus — other members of the Trojan family — can be so ignorant and reckless. We live in Southern California with one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the country, yet we still face situations like these.

If you read this and think I am overreacting, then I am sorry for you. I am sorry that you do not understand.

I am Mexican and proud, and I very much take offense.

That op-ed led to a letter by Spencer Weissberg, Pi Kappa Phi’s president. Here is a part of what Weissberg wrote:

We recognize that these statements were offensive and we want to take full accountability for the insensitivity of our actions. The statements made were not only offensive to Latinos and Hispanics, but to everyone in the Trojan Family. The brothers of Pi Kappa Phi recognize that our actions are unbecoming of the values of the Trojan community, and that, furthermore, our actions represent this university, as well as our national fraternity and Greek Life as a whole. We deeply regret having misrepresented our national fraternity and USC in this manner. Additionally, I would like to mention and thank USC Junior Melissa Morales, who, in writing a thoughtful letter to the Daily Trojan that accurately criticized our insensitivity, embodied the Trojan values of sticking to one’s beliefs.

The statements made in the event description do not reflect the beliefs or values of the Delta Rho Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi. We are a brotherhood that deeply values our diversity and we will continue to be a brotherhood for men of all races and ethnicities. The individuals who were responsible for the Facebook event and the insensitive statements are being held responsible and will be facing expulsion from the fraternity. It is my hope that these individuals, and all of my brothers, will use this opportunity to grow as human beings.

By the way, some in the USC community are criticizing Morales for writing the letter, even though Morales’ letter got Weissberg admit that his frat messed up. Here is just one comment that was published on the very same page where Morales’ letter appeared:

I literally do not see what the big deal is. Every themed party that occurs on the row (I assume you know this since you’re in Gamma Phi) takes on some type of stereotype and it really seems like no one even notices anything wrong with any of them until something like the Duke protest makes national attention and stirs up the inner-activists in people who have, hypocritically and ironically, probably been to a themed party at one point or another. What’s next? Cancel the next Western themed party because it makes fun of cowboys? Cancel the next America themed party because we’re dressing up like Americans and mocking our own country? Cancel the next Around The World party because it makes fun of everyone? God forbid. No one is making fun of anyone. We are so obsessed with being politically correct and what’s not politically correct these days that it is actually just so ridiculous. Clearly Pi Kapp isn’t trying to be mean-spirited as much as they are trying to be fun and drunk-spirited (is that a thing?). For example, I am Chinese, and both my parents are from China. Did I boycott Sigma China last year? Of course not. People don’t throw these parties to be hurtful, so just because someone with thin skin finds it offensive doesn’t automatically make it racist, especially when the large majority of the stereotype in question is perfectly fine with it. No one else thought anything of this which goes to show you that events like this are not a big deal until someone with nothing better to do blows it out of proportion like you did.

Our take? Morales is a true Rebelde. You go, Melissa. By the way and for the record, we would like to know who is the “large majority of the stereotype in question” who is “perfectly fine with it?” We don’t know many.