Frat member speaks out about blackface accusations

April 14, 2018

OPINION by KYLER WATKINS

As a former Cal Poly Lambda Chi Alpha member, I would like to respond to numerous statements made by Cal Poly to the press regarding the Lambda Chi Alpha “blackface” incident, in addition to factual misstatements rampant on social media.

First and most importantly, I take full responsibility for the lack of judgment I displayed when I painted my face black at a brotherhood event on April 7. If there’s any part of this message to take into consideration, I hope it would be that my ill-informed decision to paint my face black had nothing whatsoever to do with racism or discrimination.

Growing up white and privileged, I was truly unaware of how insensitive I was to the racial implications of blackface. I was, in fact, a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha “black team,” wore black clothes and painted my face. Dozens of witnesses, text messages leading up to the event, photographs and a video support my unwavering position that I never intended to represent or mimic a black person.

I am not in the now infamous gangster photo because that picture depicts members of the yellow team who opted for a gangster theme. I was not on the yellow team, and for that reason, I am not in the photo, nor was I dressed as a gangster.

When I woke up Sunday morning to learn that “blackface” is of historical racial significance, no words can express my regret and horror. I began researching on my laptop and learned that blackface was used in early theater to perpetuate racial stereotypes. I knew immediately that I had made a grave mistake, and moreover, I fully understood why people would hate me.

My own lack of awareness has placed my life in danger and worse, has hurt other people whom I had no intention of alienating, mocking or offending in any way. My life has been threatened, lies about me are permeating social media, and justifiably so.

Although social media and editorials in the Mustang News have dismissed my explanation as “pathetic” and “false,” the explanation is true and supported by evidence I have supplied to the university.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a racist, and contrary to some reports, I have never been involved in any kind of discriminatory incident. I am not sorry simply because I “was caught.” I am sorry because I have given other students the impression they can indiscriminately be made fun of because of their race or appearance.

In my own mind, I was simply “going all out” in my theme as a member of the black team.  Believe me, I wish with all my heart that I had been a member of the blue team.

Second, the press, social media, a new Cal Poly parents’ Facebook page and editorials to the Mustang News have portrayed me as a tried and true racist. They have argued that the concepts of the “benefit of the doubt” and “there are two-sides to every story” do not apply to me because there is no excuse for “blackface.” I agree. There is no excuse for blackface; I truly did not know the historical ramifications of it on April 7.  I do now.

I understand there was a diversity march on Friday, April 13. I’m very open to a dialogue with anyone or any student group who would like to discuss increased diversity awareness within the Greek system and the school as a whole. I’m confident that increased awareness and education is the key to preventing the type of hurt I have caused.

Ultimately, I cannot control what is said or believed about me in the press and social media. For my part, all I can do now is express my sincerest apologies to those whom I have hurt. My actions stemmed from ignorance, but never hate, discrimination or the intent to hurt anyone.







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17 Comments

  1. mkaney says:

    See, here’s the problem you just created for yourself. In general, I despise political correctness and social justice warriors. I am so far from a snowflake it’s not even funny. And yet, when I read your statement, I know that I am reading the words of an utter liar. To claim you didn’t know the racial implications of blackface is a lie. You know it, I know it, and everyone else knows it. If you are that stupid, you don’t belong in this university to begin with. The only thing I hate worse than a snowflake, is someone so full of $#*# that it’s coming out of their ears.

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. smile4thecamera says:

    Well, now you know the history behind “blackface.” It was a hard way to learn that lesson. The first step to change is always awareness. The second step is to always be available for those discussions.

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  3. Calzonian says:

    Reminds me of a friend who tried to open a curios shop in the bay area with the cute name “strange fruit.” Sometimes ignorance is painful!

    (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  4. copperhead says:

    Remember that smurfette, the only chick in a village full of men, and she was hot too. Oh no, who have I offended?

    (-5) 5 Total Votes - 0 up - 5 down
  5. copperhead says:

    We’re any actual black people offended or just white snowflakes and old rich white men.

    (34) 50 Total Votes - 42 up - 8 down
  6. standup says:

    Kyler, you are one standup individual. The left always pushes the limit for their screwed up beliefs. When I went to Cal Poly n the 80’s, there was a Blacks Only Fraternity. Triple omega or something like that. No white or Hispanic members but it was ok. Today, we have Black only scholarships, Ebony Magazine, and BEN on TV. What if someone started a white only this or that, those libpunks would be up in arms. Sorry but screw the Mustang Daily and the President. I will NEVER donate a friggin dime to the school I once loved and respected because of the liberal filth that is being spewed there. Very sad.

    (30) 58 Total Votes - 44 up - 14 down
  7. shelworth says:

    You had me until the “White and Privileged” comment….what a load of crap!

    (11) 31 Total Votes - 21 up - 10 down

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