As the “post-racial America” Sundance hit, Dear White People, nears its October 17 release date, promotion for the film continues to gather interviews with Dear White People writer/director, Justin Simien.
A strong element of Dear White People has emerged with Simien’s interviews, the film’s backdrop mirroring Simien’s own experience as an African American college student at a predominantly white University – Chapman University in Orange, CA – and the real life events Simien says he has used to sculpt the Dear White People story.
The most prominent of these events is a 2010 party in San Diego billed, at the time, the Compton Cookout, Compton being a historically African American city near Los Angeles.
The announcement for the Compton Cookout listed refreshments that included, “… chicken, coolade, and of course Watermelon.”
Guys were encouraged to wear, “… ya White T (XXXL smallest size acceptable).”
Suggestions for girls? “… those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks – Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes.”
Given no context of who was actually behind the party, the San Diego Compton Cookout was quickly tagged a UC San Diego frat party. This ignited a firestorm of negative media that sent the African American community, UC San Diego, and other college campuses over the edge.
The Compton Cookout was quickly decried and labeled an unacceptable event put on by ignorant white racists – namely white UC San Diego frat boys – similar to those portrayed in Dear White People.
In a recent interview, Dear White People Director Simien highlighted the role that the Compton Cookout plays in Dear White People, discussing why the “blackface party“ was first removed from the script, then put back in, ultimately becoming the backbone of the Dear White People film.
“I took the blackface party out because I thought it was too outlandish. Then when that (the Compton Cookout) happened at UC San Diego, I sort of rabbit-holed down the research path, (thinking) ‘Oh, I wasn’t pushing buttons. I was talking about something that actually happens.'”
But did it? Was the Compton Cookout a frat party put on by ignorant, racist, white fraternity brothers?
In an article on, “Frats behaving badly”, the Huffington Post directly frames the Compton Cookout as a UC San Diego frat party that advertised “with a photo of what was supposed to be a black person with a bucket from KFC.”
Well, it turns out the person in the photo actually is a black person, an African American satirist that calls himself Jiggaboo Jones, among other things, who reportedly hails from Compton.
And it was Jiggaboo Jones who put on the 2010 Compton Cookout, not a white-dominated UC San Diego fraternity.
“Earlier this month we wanted to give a special thank you to several of my fans on My Street Team in San Diego for their continued support of our videos, shirts & DVD’s,” wrote Jones back in 2010 on his website in his official statement regarding the Compton Cookout, compelled to write his statement because of all the party’s negative blow back. Jones going on to say that some friends from UCSD were there and, “it was a good time had by all.”
But Jones’s statement quickly addresses the charges of racism surrounding the event, saying the allegations are untrue.
“Over the next few days some hate mongering black people had told a pack of lies about our event stating that a White Fraternity and several members of the KKK threw a Racist party that made fun of black people. This lie was quickly soaked up by people with some kind of political agenda to spread hate and discontent among people who attend (UC San Diego)… The divisive few told a ‘Woa is me’ tale of how all blacks at UCSD are almost lynched in trees seemingly everyday. Members of the media ate this up because this type of story sells papers, gets people pissed off and keeps them tuning in. Blog sites went crazy and facebook fascists took their laptops and started the witch hunt that would ruin the reputations of several good hearted people and their families with their inaccurate statements.
Several fans called my phones, lit up voicemail and emails wondering why I wasn’t coming out to defend the members of my San Diego Street team. The odd truth was the supposedly offended people purposely never contacted any of them. Instead they targeted a few people who were at the event and or invited a bunch of UCSD students (conveniently only the white ones) were singled out as racists.
As I jumped in and pulled the curtain back exposing the fact that it was never a racist event and explained the whole mix-up, I was hung up on, called an uncle tom and was accused of getting paid off to ‘Cover for the Racists.'”
Jones goes on to mention that “people”, like the Huffington Post, above, “… even tried to say that the picture on the original facebook invite wasn’t really (me) Jiggaboo Jones, stating it was a woman wearing a Jiggaboo Jones T-Shirt. Believe it or not people actually clung to this as they grasped at straws realizing that they were in fact marching and protesting about a damn lie.”
And as for the result, Jones states, “I never wanted anyone to be branded as a KLAN member for simply drinking a few beers and having a few laughs with a mixed crowd of people and laughing about the stupidity of racial tensions in 2010… Sadly, your marches and demands for blood have only worsened racial tensions at UCSD.”
Now, four years later, the Compton Cookout finds an inspired version of itself on the silver screen. But it’s certainly not Jiggaboo Jones’s version.
Image via Google Images