UC Irvine Fraternity Lambda Theta Delta Apologizes For Blackface Video (UPDATE)

Fraternity Being Investigated For Blackface Video

A fraternity at the University of California-Irvine apologized this week for a "racist" video featuring a member in blackface.

Lambda Theta Delta, UC Irvine's self-described first and largest Asian American fraternity, recently posted a video on YouTube featuring four brothers dancing to "Suit & Tie by Justin Timberlake featuring Jay-Z, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The video names the students as Tony D. Duong, Philip Lam, Rainier Nanquil and Justin T. Nguyen. Nanquil is identified as the one in blackface who's supposed to be portraying Jay-Z. Most of the video just shows the brothers in a living room dressed formally and dancing to the camera. The end of the video advertises "Installs," which OC Weekly describes as an end-of-the-year celebration for the entrance of new brothers.

Thomas Parham, UC Irvine's vice chancellor for student affairs, told the Daily Pilot they're investigating the video.

"We are dismayed to see what I think is insensitive in a video parody that was made by these individuals," Parham said.

The Asian Pacific Student Association at UC Irvine also denounced the video as "deeply offensive" and "racist" in a Facebook post.

Lamba Theta Delta posted a statement on Facebook Wednesday apologizing for the offensive video, and saying the individuals involved would be punished:

The use of black face in the video is incredibly offensive as well as insensitive. This behavior is simply unacceptable and the individuals responsible for the video have already been reprimanded within the organization prior to the public outcry to which this formal apology is responding. We want to ensure everyone that this video does not represent the views of the collective house. With that being said it does acknowledge the fact that we have some ignorant individuals within our organization, whom we have already dealt with ourselves.

When the video was uploaded to YouTube earlier this month, it included the disclaimer, "No racism intended," according to CBS Los Angeles. Patrick Chen, a student government official, wrote on Facebook that in his personal opinion, the disclaimer "indicates that the makers of the video DID know on SOME cognitive level that what they were doing might be considered racist." He also pointed out that the LTD rush video -- which touted diversity and cultural awareness -- included a person in blackface as well.

The video has since been removed, but it was reuploaded to YouTube by a user called "Shame L."

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity at the University of Florida faced a similar backlash when members were caught in blackface at a party in October 2012, and Duke University's Kappa Sigma was suspended for throwing an Asian-themed party in February.

Some sororities have faced controversy as well. Kappa Delta at Indiana University took heat this week for dressing like homeless people at a party, and Penn State University's Chi Omega sparked controversy for their Mexican-themed party.

Clarification: Language has been added to the post to explicitly state that Patrick Chen's remarks were not made in his capacity as a student government official.

UPDATE, May 2: The Lambda Theta Delta fraternity announced on Facebook it would be punishing itself. The brothers are choosing to suspend the fraternity until fall 2014:

After 30 years as a registered campus organization at UC Irvine, Lambda Theta Delta has decided to suspend our status for one year until fall 2014. This decision is mainly due to the abhorrent, insensitive and highly offensive “blackface” video created by our members that has been circulated widely on the Internet. We are aware that the campus has initiated an investigation of our behavior in several videos involving racial insensitivity and alcohol use. We are cooperating fully with the University’s investigation.


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