All-campus programming needs diversification

I was disappointed to find no critique of Afroman’s visit to campus in the last issue of the Record. After a series of “positive Hip-Hop” events, after Amiri Baraka, ILL-iteracy and Sonia Sanchez’s visits to campus, Afroman was a caricature of blackness and an affront to all the quality programming that preceded his performance. I know that Afroman came to campus on the efforts of a small group of individuals, but they couldn’t have done it without funding; it’s the people that were willing to attach their name to this event that I am disappointed in. All-campus (i.e. neighborhood, Campus Life and ACE sponsored) programming has been largely white and male: Gunther, Seth Myers, Christian Finnegan, Vanilla Ice, Guster, Third Eye Blind, Vampire Weekend, Girl Talk, Matt Pond PA, Clap Your Hands. And when we do bring a “big-name” person of color, we bring the likes of Afroman, who reduces the image of black people to drugged-up, irresponsible men who are all about the Bs and Hs. Those who planned and sponsored his visit on campus should have taken the time to think about the message this sends to our black students, and our women.

Credit should be given where it is due: Campus Life did bring in a black comedian (Wayne Knight), but he proceeded to make jokes about faggots (I don’t have a problem with gay jokes, but I do have a problem being called a faggot). Spencer cluster has done a fair share of diversity programming, but that has been on the backs of a tiny handful of people on the Spencer board along with their CLC. ACE has supported hip-hop and Latino themed First Fridays but only when the suggestion came from other folks. ACE and Campus Life brought Kidz in the Hall, Dragons of Zynth and Little Brother, but are African-American men the only other artists out there?
I want to challenge ACE, the neighborhoods and Campus Life to truly diversify their programming. It’s one thing to co-sponsor a Bhangra party with SASA by buying the alcohol, but it sends a completely different message if Wood neighborhood says “We’d like to host an Asian American punk band,” or ACE wants to host a drag-show! We know that these “non-mainstream” events can actually be successful: Queer Bash, Amiri Baraka, ILL-iteracy, Ritmo Latino dance lessons, the Kinsey Sicks, the annual Step Competition. Must we always wait for special-interest groups/a few committed individuals to make these things happen, or can the “all-campus” entities finally commit to diversity and inclusion in their programming?

Kareem Khubchandani
Assistant Director of the Multicultural Center
and Queer Life Coordinator