Wednesday, 12 February 2003

Silly meta-question

At Critical Mass, Erin O'Connor reports on yet another blackface incident, this time at the University of Texas. Leaving aside the legal questions (I tend to agree with critics like O'Connor who think the real harm in these incidents is often vastly overstated), the larger question is: why do fraternities seem to choose this particular meme? I've never had the urge to go out in blackface, and I honestly can't say I understand the appeal. Surely one can make social commentary about rappers, or even African Americans in general, without covering one's face with shoe polish. Plus, you'd think after the publicity surrounding other fraternities getting in trouble for it (not only with public university administrators, where there's a clear First Amendment issue, but also with national fraternity officials, where there normally isn't one), eventually frats would get the message that doing stuff in blackface is just asking for trouble.