Compton Cookout

The Compton Cookout was an off-campus event hosted by several University of California, San Diego (UCSD) students and organized by the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity on February 15, 2010. The party, which gained national attention, was intended to mock and ridicule Black History Month. Attendees were invited to wear costumes that stereotyped minorities living in ghettos, particularly African Americans.[1] The event was widely criticized and was followed by several racially charged chalk graffiti incidents targeting specific ethnic and minority groups, eventually earning Winter Quarter 2010 the dubious nickname of “Black Winter.”[2]

2010 student event mocking Black History Month
Screenshot of the Facebook listing for the event.

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On February 15, 2010 several UCSD students, many of whom were members of Greek letter organizations, hosted a racially themed party they dubbed the “Compton Cookout”.[3] Hosted off campus and intended to mock Black History Month, the party’s Facebook event description included instructions for attendees to dress in stereotypical ghetto outfits.[1][4] In the days following the party a representative of the controversial satirical college paper Koala covered the party in a news broadcast, using a racial slur to refer to black UCSD students.[4][5] A noose was also found hanging in UCSD’s main library, prompting students to protest the campus’s racial environment by occupying the chancellor’s office.[6][7] UCSD responded by announcing a new diversity campaign, Not in Our Community, and held a teach-in in the Price Center East Ballroom, as well as carrying out long standing demands presented by the Black Student Union.[4][8] Approximately a month later, a KKK Hood was found on the head of the statue of Dr. Seuss outside of Geisel Library, which Angela Wai-Yin Kong tied into the “tense racial campus climate” following the Compton Cookout.[3]

The winter quarter during which the Compton Cookout took place is known by students and faculty at UCSD as Black Winter.[9] Racially motivated events that occurred during this time, in addition to the cookout, included a KKK hood being found on a statue of Dr. Seuss and the discovery of a noose in the main library.[10][11] In response to these events, the Black Student Union (BSU) at UCSD organized a series of marches, protests, and rallies in coordination with other groups like M.E.Ch.A..[12] The University Administration countered by organizing a series of teach-ins.[12] The BSU criticized the teach-ins, which they deemed ineffective.[12] Several BSU members attended one of the teach-ins wearing T-shirts reading “real pain, real action” and after an hour of listening, BSU leader Jasmine Phillips announced that the teach-ins would not solve the problem and that they wanted “real action”, before escorting hundreds of students out of the teach-in.[12] BSU made a list of 32 demands related to having a more racially inclusive campus which included a center for African-American students, a task-force to hire more African American faculty, and multiple efforts to increase enrollment of African American students, an African American Studies Minor, a Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and requirement for all students to take a class related to DEI.[13]

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