University of Virginia Investigates Fraternity and Sorority For “Cultural Appropriation” Offenses

According to The Cavalier Daily, the University of Virginia is proceeding against a fraternity and sorority for “engag[ing] in alleged cultural appropriation” during chapter-sponsored activities. The violations involved students at the Kappa Sigma fraternity dressed as American Indians and members of the Zeta Tau Alpha “wearing sombreros and holding maracas.”

The Facebook message  from the Inter-Fraternity Council at UVA referenced “the prejudiced and culturally insensitive attire” worn by students at the functions.

I have admittedly been a critic of some of these claims on college campuses. We discussed a basketball game where a player was attacked due to wearing braids that 20-year-old Hispanic student, Carmen Figueroa, claimed to be cultural misappropriation.  Then there was the controversy at Pitzer College where white female students were warned to take off big hoop earrings as cultural appropriation.  Then there were the students at Oberlin who declared the serving of sushi as cultural appropriation while a white student was assaulted at San Francisco State University for wearing dreadlocks by an African American student. At the heart of some of these controversies is the claim of exclusivity in the use or enjoyment of styles, foods, art, or material originally associated with one culture.

The problem is both conceptual and definitional. I often disagree with the premise that people are appropriating culture by incorporating styles or foods or art into their own forms of expression. More importantly, this is an ill-defined standard of when a cultural style or symbol or language is deemed appropriative. This is not to say that costumes cannot be offensive and criticized. However, these are all forms of expression and sanctions raise issues of both due process and free speech that are often brushed aside.

76 thoughts on “University of Virginia Investigates Fraternity and Sorority For “Cultural Appropriation” Offenses”

  1. Cultural appropriation indeed!

    “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

    – William Casey, CIA Director

    Haven’t slaves and their descendants been appropriating the free enterprise, culture, financial methodology, religion, form of governance and every other aspect of human existence from America and Americans for 400 years (1619 is the birth year of slavery)? They don’t use voodoo and witch doctors much anymore, do they? They could have gone home – Lincoln suggested compassionate repatriation – but they didn’t. I mean this is the worst kind of “cultural appropriation” – they even appropriated football and basketball almost entirely!

    Seriously. Are we really that stupid?

    1. Seriously. Are we really that stupid?


      It is truly amazing how susceptible some people are in allowing themselves to be manipulated into the role of useful idiot.

      The really scary part of the useful idiot equation:

      Voltaire: “Those Who Can Make You Believe Absurdities, Can Make You Commit Atrocities”

  2. Where is Rodney King when we need him? other than 6 feet under

    No truer words could be spoken by this black man Michael Kizzie….cant we just get along and laugh?
    And to think Earl Warren rid America of church in state. Some Americans today would make the former Puritans blush

    America has lost its humor. Pity Kimmel wont admit his own black face history. Coward


    “Black student in racist yearbook photo: ‘This is not a picture of life at the University of Richmond’”

    The photo depicts five people dressed in Ku Klux Klan costumes surrounding a smiling African-American man holding a drink and pretending to be hanged by a noose.

    The African-American man is Michael Kizzie, who played basketball at Henrico High School and for the Richmond Spiders. In a phone interview Thursday night, he said he was unaware of the photo until he was contacted by a reporter for The Collegian, UR’s student newspaper.

    “I’m just getting over the shock and embarrassment of it right now, and that’s going to take a while,” said Kizzie, who now lives in suburban Washington.

    The university’s statement says that the administration became aware that the photo had been shared on social media Wednesday night.

    “Such images reflect a past that must be reconciled and understood,” Crutcher’s statement said. “We do not intend to forget or erase those moments. Rather, we must examine and understand our history so that we may become the more inclusive community we aspire to be.”

    It added that the university has a commission looking into how it can communicate its history in a more inclusive way and that there will be a report on how the university can become an “exemplary intercultural community.”

    Kizzie says he doesn’t remember anything about the photo.

    “The best that I can say about myself — other than being an idiot for doing it — is this is not a picture of life at the University of Richmond,” he said. “I never felt pressured, I never felt intimidated. I can’t remember a racial incident that made me feel bad. This is not reflective of my tenure there. This is me being stupid.”

    “This was a party where young men were being stupid, not realizing the impact of something like this at this time,” he said.

    1. “Can’t we all just get along…


      – Wrappin’ Rotknee Kink

      Me an’ Abe!

      Wrappin’ Rot-knee was simply expressing his support for “Crazy Abe” Lincoln’s plan for compassionate repatriation which was the definitive post-slavery solution to racial antagonism, adversity and strife; the proper reparation:

      “If all earthly power were given me,” said Lincoln in a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854, “I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.” After acknowledging that this plan’s “sudden execution is impossible,” he asked whether freed blacks should be made “politically and socially our equals?” “My own feelings will not admit of this,” he said, “and [even] if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not … We can not, then, make them equals.”

      Alas, Wrappin’ Rot-knee and “Crazy Abe” were called to the Great Debating Societies For Infinite Turmoil in the Sky before their time.

      “…the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.”

      “The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound; to change and corrupt the national spirit; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities. In the composition of society, the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.”

      – Alexander Hamilton

      “Suppose 20 millions of republican Americans thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom? If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here.”

      – Thomas Jefferson

  3. Breaking News!



    A Virginia Military Institute yearbook overseen by future state Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment in 1968 features a host of racist photos and slurs, including blackface.

    The revelation about one of Virginia’s most powerful Republicans comes as the state’s Democratic governor and attorney general are facing calls to resign over their own admissions they wore blackface as young men.

    Norment, R-James City County, was managing editor of The Bomb publication that year. He went to VMI in Lexington after graduating from James Blair High School in Williamsburg and has been a state senator since 1992.

    On one page of the yearbook, a student poses in blackface, surrounded by others in costumes at a party. Another page features a photo of two men in blackface holding a football.

    The N-word is used at least once. A student listed as being from Bangkok, Thailand, is referred to as a “Chink” and “Jap.”

    A blurb under one man’s picture says: “He was known as the ‘Barracks Jew’ having his fingers in the finances of the entire Corps.”

    The Bomb has been published continuously since 1897. The first black students were allowed to enroll at the institute in the fall of 1968.

    When a reporter asked Norment to talk about the yearbook Thursday, the majority leader said, “The only thing I’m talking about today is the budget.”

    “I’m here to pass a budget today,” he added when pressed as he headed into a Republican Caucus meeting in late morning.

    Hours later, he said in a statement issued by a spokesman: “The use of blackface is abhorrent in our society and I emphatically condemn it. As one of seven working on a 359-page yearbook, I cannot endorse or associate myself with every photo, entry, or word on each page. However, I am not in any of the photos referenced on pages 82 or 122, nor did I take any of the photos in question.

    “As my comment on Page 236 notes, I supported the integration of VMI. And in 1997, I led the effort to have my alma mater include women for the first time.”

    Edited from: “Virginia Senator Tommy Norment Was An Editor For YMI Yearbook Filled With Racist Photos”


    1. RE. ABOVE:

      There’s an old saying, “Be Careful Of What You Ask For Because You Might Get It”

      The far-right Website “Big League Politics” thought they could throw Virginia Democrats into chaos by exposing Governor Ralph Northam’s old yearbook photos that featured unknown individuals in blackface and a KKK outfit. “Big League Politics” then broke the story involving sexual conduct allegations against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, another Democrat. Said revelations upset the Democrats indeed.

      But it appears that “Big League Politics” opened a sore that now claims Virginia’s Republican Senate Majority Leader. The story above is breaking wide this afternoon. Will other Republicans get dragged into this mess?

      Be careful of what you wish for because you just might get it.

      1. Pete Shill writes: “Be careful of what you wish for because you just might get it.”

        speaking of far left extremist websites,

        “Jill Abramson Is a Disgrace to Journalism”

        ah yes, that bastion of “all the news that’s fit to print”

        So tell us Peter, what “sources” will you be using in the future to peddle your muck knowing the NYTimes has this terrible past of making stuff up?

        Big League Politics sends Northam their regards…sans “brown makeup”

        1. Estovir,..
          Is it possible that Democrats will “now” meticulously research decades-old school yearbooks in an attempt to torpedo a political figure or a presidential nominee?
          I wonder what could have inspired someone to dig up Northam’s old photo memorabilia after watching the dissection of Kavanaugh’s high school yearbooks?
          The “be careful what you wish for” caution from “Peter H.” is true in ways that he evidently can’t see.

        2. Estovir, ‘who’ is Paste Magazine..????? And didn’t you notice Jill Abramson is the FORMER editor of The New York Times??

          1. Peter Histrionic, who is your mother and would she be proud of how you earn a living?

            Whataboutism apparently is no longer en vogue today.
            Relativism is for wusses

            1. Estovir, you didn’t notice that Jill Abramson was ‘fired’ from The Times 5 years ago..???

              And by the way, Abramson worked for The Wall Street Journal almost as long as she was with The Times. Does that mean WSJ is tainted as well??

              It’s pathetic you attempt to besmirch The New York Times with some no-name source. And because you used a no-name source, you didn’t know that Abramson had been fired from The Times 5 years ago.

              See how that works? No-name sources fail to provide crucial facts. So you make a fool out of yourself when using those sources to ‘tell-off’ employees of David Brock.

    2. Petey, please be a sweetie and let us know if today is the day for “whataboutisms”.

      Psssst: don’t let David Brock know that Lt Gov Justin Fairfax likes getting his pecker serviced and uses some BDSM along with it, or else you know what that means: he will never get rid of your really disgusting boss.

      just saying

        1. “… think your funny….”


          Try to communicate like an intelligent educated Amurikun

  4. The First Amendment’s speech clause primarily protects “unpopular” and “offensive speech. Popular speech doesn’t need to be protected. A state university [government entity] cannot legally censor any student. You counter freedom of speech with more freedom of speech from opposing sides – not censorship.

    1. Wow! Someone finally gets it! Go shout it from the mountain…to the Justices of the Supreme Court.

      The “manifest tenor” of the Constitution holds dominion. You may not like the speech, but Americans enjoy the freedom of it. Disturbance of the peace on a college campus or anywhere else is a separate matter. You may like redistribution of wealth but Congress has no power to tax for individual welfare only “…general Welfare…,” per Article 1, Section 8. You may like control of the means of production but Congress has no power to regulate any aspect of free enterprise other than the flow, trade or exchange of commerce “…among the several states…” to preclude bias or favor by one state over another. You may like social engineering as affirmative action, rent control, non-discrimination, fair housing, etc., but Congress has no power to claim or exercise dominion over or to possess or dispose of private property, other than under Eminent Domain.

      The entire communistic American welfare state is unconstitutional. Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto 59 years after the adoption of the Constitution because none of the principles of the Communist Manifesto were in the Constitution. Had the principles of the Communist Manifesto been in the Constitution, Karl Marx would have had no reason to write the Communist Manifesto. The principles of the Communist Manifesto were not in the Constitution then and the principles of the Communist Manifesto are not in the Constitution now.

      Article 1, Section 8

      The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

      To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

      To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

      5th Amendment

      “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime,…nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property,…”

      Private property is “…that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”

      – James Madison

  5. Cases such as this demonstrate without doubt the futility of attempting to please or accommodate leftists and social justice warriors. Don’t even try, for no matter how compliant one makes themselves to their demands you can never be free from scorn or unreasonable demand.

    The best thing ordinary people can do is to simply ignore leftists and do whatever you want in a manner you find pleasing. They are going to be outraged at everything so just expect their outrage and do what you like. Occasionally do something simply to anger them and watch how they self-destruct. It requires little effort on our part but ruins their day and makes them hate the world all the more greatly. It can be an entertaining as well.

    Remember, when you master the ability to make them angry and upset at a whim, you control their outlook on life and how they behave. That is what p0wnage is all about.

    1. Enforcement of fundamental law, the Constitution, in America has been diminishing since 1861. Why aren’t antagonists and subversives who advocate violation and nullification of the “manifest tenor” of the Constitution vigorously prosecuted or impeached? Alger Hiss may have been the last radical ideological enemy of the United States brought to justice.

      The emerging hegemon, China, overtly and brutally suppresses its opposition, presumably, “rightists.” That tyranny is inexorably coming to a town near you.

      “When China joined the World Trade Organization 15 years ago, it made commitments regarding enshrining financial fair play and judicial independence. However, the CECC report says that China has failed to implement substantive legal reforms, and instead of “rule of law” has become “rule by law — that is, using the law as a means to expand control over Chinese society while disregarding the law when it does not accommodate Party imperatives or advance Party objectives.”

      Late last year, the U.N. Committee against Torture concluded that China had failed to eliminate torture, enforced disappearances, deaths in custody, and numerous other forms of ill-treatment in detention. The CECC says the Chinese authorities continue to use “black jails” and other forms extrajudicial detention to suppress individuals such as petitioners, rights activists and members of the banned socio-religious group Falun Gong.

      Xi’s “tigers and flies” anti-corruption campaign has also seen accusations of torture and coerced confessions and even a spate of suicides by those in line for CCP disciplinary investigations.”

      – Time

  6. This is a satirical notice and equally ridiculous demand:

    Persons of Greek ancestry are duly offended not only by fraternities but also despicable universities misusing Greek slogans and architecture and philosophy and math and etc etc etc and hereby demand they cut out misappropriating like half of the Western cultural heritage. From now all philosophy profs referring to any Greek cultural heritage must have verifiable Greek ancestry. The other one quarter pertaining to Latin peoples’ cultural heritage and the other quarter the Germanic portion. Liz Warren standard of 1/32 to qualify for quota largesse is acceptable.

    Since so much of university pedagogy includes Greek cultural artifacts this will put an end to the unemployment problem in Greece as American universities rush to fire half their instructional staff. Oh and Greeks demand a special migration work visa program to help meet the need.

    Albanians are suitably offended by this in that their contribution to western civilization is almost nil outside of Mother Teresa and John Belushi.

    Greeks realize that all the blacks who get fired won’t like this new quota system, but it’s only fair. To Greeks that is. Or as Thrasymachus observed, what is justice but the advantage of the strong?

  7. If the governor of Virginia does not resign, it will be morally, legally, unconditionally and irrefutably acceptable to wear blackface and KKK hoods and robes in the United States of America.

      1. The Governor and Lt. Governor of Virginia must resign or their behavior shall be considered appropriate and acceptable by the residents of Virginia.

  8. Here’s another suggestion. Amend state corporation law in regard to the powers of trustees of educational philanthropies and state schools.

    1. The trustee, once chosen, must submit to an oath of office in which he affirms his responsibility for the academic integrity of the school.

    2. The board shall be permitted and encouraged to hire on contract counsel and auditors who are not employees of the institution and not on a retainer extended by management.

    3. The board shall select the president. His contract of employment shall not exceed six years.

    4. The board may, according to its preferences, supervise the hiring (or, as the case may be, the intramural appointment) of all of the President’s direct reports (bar his confidential secretary) and all of their direct reports (bar the confidential secretary of each) and may, should it so choose, insist its judgment prevail over that of management.

    5. The salaried employees of an institution shall be the faculty, quasi-faculty, administration, and technicians / professionals. Bar the faculty, these shall be at-will employees or on contracts of a duration not exceeding a year. Administrators drawn from the faculty hold their administrative positions at the pleasure of their superiors or for terms of one year; should they be removed from such positions, they return to their teaching duties as members of the faculty.

    6. Quasi-faculty are those who teach, but do not teach full courses. They include laboratory instructors, athletic coaches, remedial tutors, music tutors, and workshop instructors. A person may have a joint appointment which includes a berth on the quasi-faculty and a position in some other segment of the institution.

    7. Occupational schools and the performing and studio arts faculty are permitted to employ clinical instructors. A clinical instructor is presumed to have regular employment in his field and is not to teach more than two courses and a section in any given semester. Academic faculties do not employ clinical instructors.

    8. A segmented instructional department is permitted one part-time position per segment. An unsegmented department is permitted just one part-time position. On academic faculties, the departments of biology, psychology, political science, sociology, and history will commonly be segmented. The departments of English, economics, and anthropology will on occasion be segmented.

    9. Faculty shall have three ranks: instructor, lecturer, and professor. An instructor shall be a faculty member on a contract of < 6 semesters duration. A lecturer's contract shall be 6-12 semesters. A professor shall have continuous tenure. Instructors and lecturers shall have the right to a terminal contract whose duration is a function of their years of employment with the institution, one semester for every four semesters they have been employed.

    10. There may be, consequent to bequests or donation, an endowed chair in a given department. Its occupant may be appointed for a term or may be granted continuous tenure. No person shall be appointed to any endowed chair except by a vote of the majority of all of the trustees.

    11. No one shall be hired-to-tenure except to occupy an endowed chair.

    12. No one shall apply for or be granted a professorship (which shall, by law, include continuous tenure) who has not had a minimum of 12 years full time service on a given faculty nor shall such a grant be given anyone who has yet to reach the age of 45. Principles of due diligence shall command trustees to scrutinize any proposal to grant tenure to a faculty member who has yet to reach the age of 55.

    13. Faculty who are eligible for full Social Security, who are eligible for Medicare, and who have contributed to TIAA-CREF for 40 years (pro-rating those years when the faculty member was employed part-time) are required to retire. Emeritus faculty may be recalled for a semester to fill an unanticipated vacancy, but otherwise do not teach.

    14. Faculty are to be hired according to a procedures manual enacted by a majority vote of the trustees. However faculty are hired, under no circumstances shall a faculty member’s contract be renewed without a vote of the majority of the trustees. Neither shall a faculty member be promoted absent such a vote.

    15. No institution, public or private, shall offer a degree or certificate program not nominated in a glossary enacted into law by the state legislature. Nor shall any offer any nominated program whose content is inconsistent with the descriptions mandated in said glossary. No private institution shall offer any degree or certificate program absent the adoption of such a program by a vote of the majority of all the trustees. No public institution may offer a program absent a resolution by a vote of the majority of all the trustees to apply to the supervisory commission of the state board of regents for permission to offer such a program. No institution may offer a program without the express permission of said commission. Such permission may not be granted or withheld absent public hearings wherein other state institutions are permitted to object to such a grant on the grounds that extant programs at other state institutions have saturated the market.

  9. Just asked a Mexican what they thought about other non-Mexicans wearing “wearing sombreros and holding maracas.” The response was “expletive-ing hilarious.”

    1. When you go to Mexico they have the whole Industry built around selling these goodies….so I guess we shouldn’t buy anything that doesn’t originate in our own particular culture…which, given that I’m a true American mutt…is pretty much everything 🙂 (except those hijab thingies….just sayin, not my thing 😉

      1. Funny you mention that “American” thing because the conversation went like this:

        Me: Hey, this is random question, but what do you think about non-Mexicans “wearing sombreros and holding maracas” in jest, or otherwise?

        Him: I am not Mexican, I am American.

        Me: You know what I mean, American—of Mexican descent. Whatever.

        Him: Sure. American—of Mexican descent. What do I think?

        Me: Yeah, what do you think?

        Him: Uh….it’s expletive -ing hilarious.

        Me: So, not offensive?

        Him: Nope. And like who cares! You know, I think these people [who are complaining about this] have way too much time on their hands. Bored, or they’re super sensitive, or something.

        Him: And everyone wears sombreros and ponchos on “Cinco de Mayo,” and goes out partying…

        Me: Well, I do think the wearing of the attire is more of a “west coast” thing, at least on “Cinco de Mayo.” People still go out on “Cinco de Mayo” on the “east coast,” but here…when in Rome.

  10. I am not sure that I am comprehending how you can have a “safe spaces” (a place where everyone is welcome and allowed to express themselves—in their ideas, opinions, and beliefs—freely) and “cultural appropriation” (a situation where one group, or even said person(s) is to be shunned and ostracized for expressing themselves—freely) all in the same place (e.g., college, university). It seems rather counterintuitive, at least to me.

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