La Shawn Barber

In the late 1960s, college students rioted and stormed administration buildings, protesting everything from the Vietnam War to freedom of speech violations to the paucity of black students, faculty and programs on campuses. If you were around then and thought some, most or all of those protests were over-the-top, you might want to add the brouhaha at the University of California at San Diego to the list.

Last month, a black comedian calling himself Jiggaboo Jones organized a party for his fans in the area, dubbed "Compton Cookout" (toned down from "Nigga Nite"). Attendees, who included students from UCSD, were encouraged to wear "ghetto" attire, short nappy hair, gold teeth and speak loudly in substandard English. On the menu: chicken, watermelon, Kool-Aid and malt liquor. Sources erroneously reported that the off-campus party was organized by UCSD's Pi Kappa Alpha, a white fraternity.

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Members of the Black Student Union heard about the party, raised a ruckus and condemned the "racist" frat for supposedly mocking Black History Month with embarrassing racial stereotypes. The school's humor publication in turn mocked the protestors and pointed out that UCSD's Black Alumni Association scheduled a "Kool Aid 'n' Chicken" dinner the same month (since removed from the site). The student publication also used a racial slur on a student-run TV program. Consequently, UCSD and the student government shut down the TV station and froze funding for 33 student media organizations. (

FIRE is on the case.)

Afterward, someone left a noose in the campus library, and black students stormed and occupied the chancellor's office. Some claimed (with straight faces, apparently) they felt unsafe and intimidated on campus. A campus police report listed the noose-hanging as a hate crime. The person who left the noose later came forward and issued an apology, published in the student newspaper. She described herself as a "minority student" who sympathized with the protestors, but claimed to have left the noose behind unintentionally. Neither her name nor her race has been released. After the noose incident, someone discovered a "KKK-style" pillowcase on a campus statue. So far, no "minority student" has come forward to take the blame for it.

La Shawn Barber

Freelance writer La Shawn Barber blogs at the American Civil Rights Institute blog.