A group of Clemson University students--white students--threw a "gangsta" theme party the weekend prior to the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday.
The party invited participants to dress and behave in a manner that could politely be described as a night of parody of African American racial stereotypes. Dress and behavior poked fun at blacks who were not present for the event.
A similar party took place at Tarleton State University here in Texas. Another convened at the University of Connecticut School of Law.
On each campus the events in question set off a backlash of disgust, disappointment and hurt feelings. In addition, on each campus formal talks and forums have been organized to discuss race, racism and the nature and current condition of America's racial psyche.
To a person the students involved in the parties claim they meant no harm or disrespect. And, above all, they denied any suggestion that racism was involved.
I must admit I have a hard time with that claim.
Further, it is the ease with which the group uses this sort of disclaimer as an easily accessible, default "fall back" position, when caught in an act of blatant racism, that continues to really bug, irritate and anger me. University students with, at a minimum, no more sensitivity than this is a phenomenon that I find preposterous.
We should not be fooled.