ASU Frat's "MLK Black Party" Defended by Black Civil Rights Advocate

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Amid all the outrage over ASU fraternity brothers having an "MLK Black Party," where white students mocked black people to go along with the party's theme, there is one person who's defending the students who hosted the party.

Michael Meyers, who's black and the head of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, urges ASU president Michael Crow not to take disciplinary action against the students involved with the party. New Times needed Meyers to explain this one.

See also:
-ASU Fraternity Celebrates MLK Day with Party Mocking Black People
-Black Leaders Call for Action After ASU Frat's "MLK Black Party"

Images of the students dressed in basketball jerseys and bandanas, throwing up gang signs, and drinking out of a hollowed-out watermelon outraged several local black activists and black ASU students, as they called for action against the students, but Meyers certainly doesn't share their outrage.

"Whether I see something wrong is not the issue," Meyers says. He believes their actions are protected by the First Amendment, so they shouldn't be punished by a public university. Plus, he says he didn't find it particularly racist, anyway.

"If their party was racist, so what?" Meyers says. "It was a party. I mean, where is our sense of humor?"

Meyers, a self-proclaimed liberal who happens to have several friendly appearances on Fox News, says he was laughing at the photos of the party.

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Even if the frat party had been more blatantly racist -- a celebration of "Martin Luther Coon Day," Meyers suggested -- he'd still be backing them up, from a First Amendment standpoint.

"That's what makes America great," he says. "You've got to have one standard -- that's the First Amendment."

He's sent an open letter to ASU president Crow, explaining this decision, which you can read in its entirety on the next page of this post.

"Assuming the press reports are correct, local civil rights activists are, in our considered judgment, wrong to demand disciplinary action -- including and up to expulsion of the students who 'insulted' Dr. King and who mocked so-called 'black culture,'" the letter states. "Moreover, as I understand from your university's description of itself, ASU is a public university. As such it is obligated to uphold the constitutional rights of its students to free speech and association. It is -- and you are -- obligated to counter any blowback that would violate the free speech and association rights of your students, no matter that their speech has insulted or offended some or many on campus."

Although the fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon, has already been suspended, an ASU spokeswoman told New Times this week that the University "can and will take additional action against the individuals involved."

The Reverend Jarrett Maupin, who also calls himself a civil rights leader, says he wants the students at the party to be expelled. Maupin has called for a boycott of ASU's athletic programs if Crow doesn't meet with local black leaders to address the situation.

Other black leaders and students were behind Maupin as he made his announcement, but not everyone agrees, as you can see from Meyers' comments.

UPDATE: 3:38 p.m.: Immediately after reading this post, Maupin called to respond to Meyers' opinion, saying, "That is probably the most ridiculous statement ever made by an African-American in the history of America."

"I agree that all Americans of every race have equal First Amendment rights," he continued. "They also must deal with the consequences of acting of those rights. The ASU students involved in Tau Kappa Epsilon are facing the consequences of a public display of racist and discriminatory behavior."

Maupin added that he'd pray for Meyers.

"I don't know if he's from Brooklyn, I don't know if he's from Harlem, I don't know if this brother's from planet earth, but his comments certainly aren't reflective of the vast majority of African-Americans," he said.

Read Meyers' letter to Crow on the next page.


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79 comments
v.faye.miller
v.faye.miller

Would someone PLEASE tell me what is the deal with blacks and watermelon and fried chicken? They do not fricking own them! I am white. I have eaten watermelon and fried chicken my whole life, so why is it considered so offensive for blacks to eat good food too. Also, why is it considered racist if you use watermelon or even the WORD watermelon within 5 feet of blacks? Don't you boring, repetitive, cry baby idiots EVER grow up? You HAVE to see racism else you would be lost. Racism is your guiding star. It HAS to be there or you would be irrelevent. Sad.

Kenny Tibbs
Kenny Tibbs

And furthermore... any of you assholes that have ever had a mixed drink in a coconut must hate hawiians too

Kenny Tibbs
Kenny Tibbs

Oh screw all of you offended by that party..... guess what... I'm having mixed drinks out of a hollowed out small watermelon with a black friend of mine right now. You uppity self centered pricks are what is wrong with the world today. Mind your own fucking business and you'll be fine. You can have an opinion on whatever you want but guess what... no one but you and the other assholes that think like you care. Go fuck yourself and your opinions on what other free white and 21 people do. That is all.

Elias De la Concha III
Elias De la Concha III

People need to learn that their actions do affect other people. So be careful what you say and do, its not always just about you..!

James Ryan Fennelly
James Ryan Fennelly

Yes they should be punished. They're supposed to be elite college students; capable of seeing past the popular stereotypes marketed by mainstream media and design for positive influences and change regarding equality.

Raymond Tucker
Raymond Tucker

If the 47 black people who live in Arizona don't care, why should anyone else?

Jo Ellen Birt McNamara
Jo Ellen Birt McNamara

It may be First Amendment but when you are representing a national fraternity, and you're on the fence for an organized crime charge for "ordering" physical violence against another fraternity....I don't think too many people are gonna jump in to support your racist antics.

Pete Diaz
Pete Diaz

We have to decipher and respond because it seems every form of free speech becomes a political agenda. And that 5%, the politicians, have us brainwashed to believe on how to respond that's why we as individuals have to make our own internal assertion !!

Pete Diaz
Pete Diaz

Feeling offended is an integral part of our constitutional rights ! It's up to us how we decipher and respond to that !

Pete Diaz
Pete Diaz

Right James Hill,just a bunch of college kids acting out in a college environment ! All of you who have been to college or are in college, think about it. He who has not sinned throw the first stone ! Free thinking and speech!

James Hill
James Hill

hey, they were just celebrating the culture.

James Hill
James Hill

I agree. What's up with Crowe. No questions and kicks a 65 year old entity off campus to appease civil rights foks. It is insane the dude has no huevos

David Lopez
David Lopez

You ain't gonna tell me blondie don't like her some darkness

DNichols
DNichols

Come on Man, this is Arizona!

"The Desert Racist Wasteland."

These kids are now automaticly qualified as upper management at the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office.

They just need to learn how to Shackle Hispanic chain gangs to be marched in front of Arpaio's Media Circus.

The Arizona G.O.P. can now teach them to Baptise Neo Nazi's.

Jan Brewer will probably award them some kind of Goverors Office Medal.

Arturo Yescas
Arturo Yescas

1st amendment prevents you from bring arrested. Asu has every right to take away their legitimacy as they have become a liability to the schools in a state with an already tarnished race relations record, and the last state to recognize mlk day. Try to look at the bigger picture before crying injustice

Lew Level
Lew Level

Get over it BET always shows the movie "white Girls". They didn't put on black face did they? As Forst Gump said "sorry for interrupting your black panther party".

Arturo Yescas
Arturo Yescas

At first it didn't make any sense but when I saw that he was a Fox News contributor I was like- oh ok... I didn't bother reading the rest.

Michael Herrera
Michael Herrera

This is stupid from the get-go.. ASU is going way overboard over a party.. That looked like a get together not a party!! Besides if your feelings got hurt over other people actions that did nothing to you personally is stupid!! So fucking sick of politicly correctness it makes me want to puke!!!

Dennis Russell
Dennis Russell

The kids can do what they want, even if it is coarse or tasteless. Likewise, the university can take whatever actions they deem appropriate. Good on ASU and President Crowe.

Mary Doe
Mary Doe

It is up to the University to decide to keep the students who are current and potential liability or not. They are not being incarcerated or even threatened with incarceration. Being expelled from a school is not 'pretty violent.' And stretching 'the First Amendment' all the way to ridiculous really has to stop.

Steve Hoffman
Steve Hoffman

!000 hours of sensitivity training would be right

Lindsey Christine Carpenter
Lindsey Christine Carpenter

It's a fair point that if the students had held a hillbilly or Duck Dynasty party, the would not be this backlash.

John Ryden
John Ryden

no... they should have a sitcom... prime time

جورج کارامانا
جورج کارامانا

To be honest if this same fraternity dressed in powdered wigs, 18th Century coats, and talked like Early Americans for President's Day, I don't think one person would complain: The root of this whole bullshit is a bunch of local black church leaders trying to get publicity for themselves or their congregations.

Rick Fowler
Rick Fowler

It comes down to policy, regardless of whether or not your are disgusted with what these students did. Most importantly, the frat was already on social suspension. TKE's ties to ASU are permanently revoked for infringing on (not one or two but) FOUR violations of the student code of conduct. I believe the punishment of this event was well suited to the codes it violated, especially since the event occurred while TKE was on social suspension. However, in order to support further punishment of these young adults you need to ask yourself two things--first, what LAW did they break? Did they break any laws and to what extent are their actions protected by the 1st Amendment? Secondly, if your child was in the shoes of these students, is it possible that the social justice is punishment enough? We're all talking about it online (and we represent a small fraction). How soon do you think any of these students are going to get employment anywhere in Arizona after what's happened? It is likely that since national media has picked up on this story that these young people have ruined their lives possibly beyond state borders by making very poor, highly insensitive choices (and further mistakes by allowing it to be documented and posted publicly). The students made an ignorant mistake that has further fueled the polarization of the nation but to punish them further, you'd be hard pressed to point out damage they've done (outside of social damage and contributing to the polarization of America--neither of which are illegal currently). I'm saddened that there are so many people posting online that they should have gone unpunished because of what that sentiment implies. They got what they deserved within the scope of ASU and time will tell if they'll be further punished by the media/society.

Trinidad Elizabeth
Trinidad Elizabeth

Racist or not they're still idiots! I'd be embarrassed to call them my kids or even an acquaintance

Lawrence E. Sellers Jr.
Lawrence E. Sellers Jr.

The fact that TKE has been targeted is a joke. The image portrayed is mainstream. Go to any mall or dept. store & these fashions are displayed & marketed. Suddenly because a group of students have a theme party where everyone dresses like a rap star or a basketball player, or like thousands of teenagers across the country, they are insensitive or ridiculous. This criticism doesn't make sense. The issue is, Blacks don't want to be imitated or characterized by white people, only blacks are permitted to do that. But it's ok for blacks to mock white people & make fun of their pale pasty skin. Blacks can say nigga or nigger & it's acceptable, but not for a white person. Blacks can call whites Honkies & that's ok but when white students wear NBA shirts or baseball hats, they're racist. This is a huge double standard. Leave TKE alone & let them dress like Mexicans on Chico de Mayo if they choose.

JP Popoff
JP Popoff

It is obvious that those that don't think it is racist might have some issues of their own. Listen, they might not have realized that what they did was racist, but it was. These white kids are saying that black culture can only be represented by sports jerseys and watermelon by their actions when there is so much more. It may have been an accident caused by ignorance but it was still racist and inappropriate.

Mathew Shaffer-Gage
Mathew Shaffer-Gage

Definitely very very white and I agree, AZ has a population of very very white ignorant folks

robert_graham
robert_graham

Good for Mr. Meyers to come to their defense.  I'm surprised we haven't heard anything from the buffon race baiters Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Eric Holder by now.  I guess the reason why we haven't heard from Eric Holder yet is because he is too busy trying to find made up reasons to sue New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Alitza Blough
Alitza Blough

True enough, but they didn't. I doubt they were trying to raise awareness of the areas of the Af-Am community that pull down the view and progress of the rest of the community... for example. It was done in disrespect and likely out of ignorance of life in the US as anything other than very, very white.

Mathew Shaffer-Gage
Mathew Shaffer-Gage

If this party had been called a "Gangster Rap Party" nobody would have cared.

Sammy Snug
Sammy Snug

Fucking clowns of tke at it again..as the saying goes...if you dont go greek...go tke

Don Sherbondy
Don Sherbondy

Of Course… especially since they have made NO attempt to apologize ..

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

it doesnt matter, they didnt make fun of mexicans, its all good.

Pete Diaz
Pete Diaz

Does anybody remember a few years back a Mexican team came to play at Asu of all places. And was received with flying tortillas !! FCkn funny!

Joe Rollins
Joe Rollins

That sounds amazing. Can I come to all of those?

skookumjohn
skookumjohn

The university is a public, taxpayer supported institution, and as such may not discriminate against any individual for exercising their free speech rights.  If that asshole Crow expels these kids or punishes them in any way, they will all get rich from suing his commie ass.

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