Racist “Compton Cookout” frat party angers residents, USC students

An off-campus fraternity party at the Univeristy of California San Diego that mocked Compton residents has sparked protests around California. On Thursday, February 25, 2010, students at USC gathered to speak out against the party. Guests invited to the “Compton Cookout” were encouraged to eat watermelon, wear gold teeth, among many other negative stereotypes.

Joanne Hartfield has lived in Compton all her life and says she wouldn’t change anything about it. She and others, like Alonzo Tyler and Dave, who didn’t want to give his last name, believe that the Compton Cookout party is based on misconceptions about Compton as a community.

“A lot of people like to have fun and just put Compton in it but don’t know anything about Compton,” she said. “But if you want to talk about black people you have to really know about black people before you talk about them.”

Jenna Zwang of Annenberg Radio News spoke with Hartfield and other Compton residents about how they feel about negative perceptions of their community. She filed this report:

At USC, student protestors stood together in front of Tommy Trojan. They were all dressed in black and most of them had duct tape covering their mouths.

The event was sponsored by Save Ourselves – a student group within The Center for Black, Cultural and Student Affairs. Chris Foy was there and filed this story for Annenberg Radio News:

Acts of overt racism by college students are not just found on the grounds of one particular school. Avia Wilkerson, a member of the protest, says she’s heard of similar parties at USC targeting the Latino community.

“People were dressed up in gardening outfits and had leaf-blowers,” she said. “The fact that people are throwing these parties means that this is how they actually view these people they are portraying.”

After Barack Obama was elected president, Avia said she and a group of her friends were celebrating in their dormitory.
“While we were coming down, the elevator opened up on a particular floor with students who were apparently unhappy with the results of the election and we got trash thrown at us.”

She said they were harassed by these same students verbally as well.

“They said ‘you don’t even f-ing care about politics. This is the first time you’ve ever paid attention to an election.’ Another girl who happens to be very small had a group of larger males throw water on her – this is all on the same night.”

A popular anonymous college website called Campus ACB has discriminatory language. USC students there made derogatory comments directed at African-American women. The posting dated January 22 – which is too offensive to post – was updated just last week with more usage of racial slurs. It’s a sign that racial tensions are still common at many universities.


  1. Robert Ray says:

    I am a 69 year old WHITE male living in Compton, and I was disgusted at hearing about this “cookout”. Compton is not an all black city. In fact, 65% of the residents are Hispanic, and there are many whites and other races in Compton as well. These students need to come to a Compton City Council meeting and make a public apology to all of the residents of Compton.
    After their apology they may want to visit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Very educational!

  2. I agree with the previous posting but I believe that in such a sensitive situation you need to be careful of your word usage because not all people are as analytical as you and I are. Please be careful to specify that the students you are referring to are the students who were involved, and not just students at UCSD in general. The students here at UCSD do not share a collective stand other than in opposition to such heinous behavior. I am so appalled words just cannot express it. I am depressed, upset, just so many mixed emotions.

  3. Yikes… That looks like a pretty scary crowd… I hope they don’t head north to the bay area.

  4. kimmy lee says:

    Wow! They’re brave and it is good that they fight for their rights or for someone’s rights.

  5. The image is very intiresting… thankss

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