Compton residents react to UC San Diego’s ‘Compton Cookout’

By Heather Hope

March 10, 2010

Compton residents sounded off on the Mayor Tuesday night, saying he and elected officials are not taking a visible stand against a racist, Compton-bashing act done at the University of California, San Diego last month.

Joyce Kelly, a Compton resident for more than 40 years, said at a city council meeting that she wants Mayor Eric J. Perrodin to be more vocal in response to the “Compton Cookout,” a party held last month by members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity near the UCSD campus, which mocked Black History month. The party’s invitation asked guests to dress “ghetto” by wearing “cheap clothes and gold teeth.”

This event was followed by a string of racist acts, such as a noose hung in a UCSD library and a white hood, similar to Ku Klux Klan style, was hung on a campus statue.

Kelly said since the event has gained national attention, she does not understand why the Compton City Council was not in the forefront of the media to positively represent the city.

“Just like everything else in this area, it takes you leaders so long to respond to things,” Kelly said. “No one I know is a ghetto chick, and I don’t want my hometown to be recognized that way.”

Part of the “Compton Cookout” invitation posted on Facebook read as follows:

"February marks a very important month in American society. No, I'm not referring to Valentine’s Day or Presidents’ Day. I'm talking about Black History month. As a time to celebrate and in hopes of showing respect, the Regents community cordially invites you to its very first Compton Cookout. For guys: I expect all males to be rockin’ Jersey's, stuntin' up in ya White T (XXXL smallest size acceptable), anything FUBU, Ecko, Rockawear, High/low top Jordan’s, stunner shades, 59 50 hats, Tats, etc.
For girls: For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks-Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes - they consider Baby Phat to be high class and expensive couture. They also have short, nappy hair, and usually wear cheap weave, usually in bad colors, such as purple or bright red. They look and act similar to Shenaynay, and speak very loudly, while rolling their neck, and waving their finger in your face. Ghetto chicks have a very limited vocabulary, and attempt to make up for it, by forming new words, such as ‘constipulated’, or simply cursing persistently.”

The invitation also described the party’s menu, to include, “chicken, Kool-Aid and watermelon.”

Perrodin said he met with UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and other university officials but is not going to do a “grandstand in front of the camera” over the cookout.

“You don’t know what phone calls I’ve made, what meetings I’ve had or the people I’ve spoken to about this,” he said.

Lynn Boone, a resident of Compton, said there should be more accountability for the event, and residents should be informed on how the city is planning on handling the prejudice party.

Councilwoman Barbara J. Calhoun, District 1, said the council’s priority is to first handle the business of the city.

“We saw the NAACP and other local groups were getting involved so that we didn’t have to,” she said.

Daniel Widener, director of African American studies at UC San Diego, told the council that he apologizes on behalf of the school and asked the city council to prepare a resolution that would condemn the fraternity party and subsequent racist attacks to show that Compton is monitoring the actions of UCSD and its administrators.

Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux, who represents the third district, said she was very angry to hear about the cookout and believes the media’s portrayal of Compton is to blame for people’s negative perceptions.

“The first thing I wanted to do was put on my boxing gloves,” Arceneaux said.

She said the council should invite students and faculty members from UCSD to see Compton for themselves and then judge.

Perrodin said he feels the cookout was ignorant and thinks that creating a better image of Compton first begins with its residents. He said having events, such as the city’s disputed $500,000 annual gospel concert will help bring people together and portray the area in a more positive light.

Boone disagreed, saying the concert would be too expensive and won’t do anything to change how people see the city.

Perrodin responded, “We have to build ourselves up first, and that begins with us not trying to tear each other apart in here.”