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A fraternity putting on a haunted house as a philanthropy event is a pretty common occurrence on most campuses. Some are actually really good. The decorations are often awesomely over the top, thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of the
fraternity members pledges tasked with creating the attraction. Unfortunately it would seem that the Theta Delta Chi chapter at the University of California-Berkeley might have gone a little too over the top, and by that I mean racistly over the top, at least on accident anyway.
A haunted house held by a UC Berkeley fraternity has met with controversy for a decoration critics say resembles a lynching.
Theta Delta Chi’s placement of a hanging zombie from the house’s third story window has created a stir with some who liken its appearance to racially charged public hangings.
The zombie body, which has since been taken down, had a dark grey head and was dressed in jeans and a white shirt that had been stuffed with straw.
Okay, so I think we can all agree that this was NOT done to be racist. It was a grey zombie head. Grey and green are the two general skin tones of zombies. I doubt anyone in the house was like “let’s put a lynching scene in our front yard!” I mean, this happened at Cal-Berkeley after all. The place is practically a hippie commune. I assume that they have South Park-esque tolerance classes. I think the decision to put the hanging corpse up went more like this:
Pledge 1: Dude let’s put a hanging body out the window. That’d scare the shit out of little kids. It’d look awesome too.
Pledge 2: Good idea. I’ll use this zombie head I found in the philanthropy closet.
Pledge 1: That thing’s pretty dark toned.
Pledge 2: It’s grey.
Pledge 1: Dark grey.
Pledge 2: What? You think people will think we’re hanging a black guy out of our window? That’d be racist and awful, why would we do that? It’s a zombie head! Look at it! I mean, is it too dark?
Pledge 1: I don’t know…how dark is too dark?
Pledge 2: You know what? Let’s just give it the benefit of the doubt and hang it out the window.
Pledge 1: Good call. I mean, worst case scenario? Media firestorm.
Goddamn pledges. Also, in a scenario like that, if you have to ask if something is “too dark” then it is, in fact, too dark. Nothing about this was a good idea, but really, this all reads like a giant misunderstanding to me. Of course, other people would prefer to be blindly enraged because FRATERNITY! RACIST!
“This is another incident that convinces me and my community that this campus and society is not post-racial and racist (sic) is alive and well,” Former Black Student Union Chair Salih Muhammad told Onyx Express Magazine.
After a photo of the zombie was posted on Facebook, commenters reacted with disgust.
“(I) don’t know who in your fraternity EVER thought this was okay but it’s not,” reads a comment by UC Berkeley junior Kirk Coleman.
OF COURSE racism is alive and well. There are still plenty of assholes in the world to keep it that way, but these kids aren’t them. These kids are poor decision makers, to be sure, but not racist. I agree with the second quote, sort of. I would also like to know WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS OKAY? The philanthropy chair of Theta Delta Chi was not one of those people.
“There was no intention whatsoever as to present it as a black person and it was a poor choice of head to use because it was a dark grey color,” said Devin Shoop, the fraternity’s philanthropy chair and organizer of the haunted house. “We understand that this has offended people and we’re sorry for any turmoil this might have caused.”
According to Shoop, the decision to use the zombie head, which was a decoration from an event last year, was the frat’s way of conserving costs so that more money could be donated to the charities which the event benefits.
Shoop went on to add he was going to find out who was at fault and hold the pledges responsible regardless.
The fraternity house philanthropy has not been cancelled thankfully. It will be benefiting Autism Speaks and the Green Stampede, so if you’re in the area go out and support some good causes. If you’re a fraternity at another school putting on a haunted house philanthropy today then now would be the time to go make sure that none of the corpses you have strewn about your attraction look like a minority. Remember, only white corpses are inoffensive. Also maybe double check the sheets on all of your ghosts. You’re shooting for rounded tops. Rounded tops.