I’m writing to express my concern on why action hasn’t been taken against the Metaphonian Society* for their offensive performance on Friday, Oct. 27 at the annual Society DubSync performance. My first concern points to LEAP, who is in charge of reviewing Dub Sync performances for appropriateness, but somehow lacked to notice the racism in the Metaphonian’s performance.
A female Whittier student who wishes to not be named stated, “I understand that the Met’s script was inappropriate but I personally do not feel the blame should completely fall upon the society. Obviously administration was not paying enough attention and they should take part of the blame.” Another anonymous Whittier student stated, “For DubSync, there are multiple rehearsals and multiple listenings of the audio file. If something seemed wrong someone should have spoken up whether it be an individual in the society or administration when it came to previewing the whole skit. The ball was dropped.” How did LEAP allow this type of performance to reach the stage? However, let’s discuss the insensitive portrayal of Fresh Prince of Bel Air that was seen on that day. The Mets began their skit with them talking about boys, calling the person a “fine chocolate lava cake” which was clearly a remark on his race being African-American. As an African-American, I, as well as others who are not African-American were offended by this comment because of its lack of sensitivity toward people of color’, and their struggle with appearance, specifically skin tone.
The skit continued and music began to play as they danced. A number of attendees claim that vulgar language used in the song that did not bleep out or cut out inappropriate words, such as the “n” word. To add fuel to fire the Metaphonian’s continued their skit where “Will Smith” expressed interest in a British speaking female. In order to gain approval of the British speaking female’s mother, “Will” began to change his “hood” ways and acted more like “Carlton.” Throughout the skit, they continued references relating characters from the show to being born in a state prison. The Metaphonian’s continued their racist performance by mimicking a stereotypically African American accent and pretended to be from the “hood.”
Third-year student Carly Stevens, who attended the performance said, “I thought the use of stereotypical African-American accents was completely inappropriate and racially insensitive.” third year student Rika Drew-King also adds, “I think I would have been cool with it as a performance, but the ‘blackcents’ were just really hard to take. It’s just not funny to imitate other race’s speech patterns. None of those girls talk like that, and it just made me cringe.”
This performance struck the attention of many attendees who felt the performance was extremely insensitive, offensive, and made them feel uncomfortable. Fourth-year Sheldyn Odom, who attended the event said, “The performance I saw the Metaphonian Society give at DubSync was ignorant and made themselves and the school look bad.” At the end of all the performances, it was a shock to the attendees that even after the Metaphonians had such a racist performance out of all the categories, they still won an award for, “Best Interpretation.” This was an event open to the public and what they demonstrated in their skit is a reflection on our school as a whole.
Fourth-year Daniza Rodriguez was also upset by the Metaphonian’s choices: “I think the biggest turnoff for me was their decisions in some of their clothing, their accents, and word choices; considering that the Franklins had a Pokémon theme performance and did not attack Asian culture in any way.”
Second-year Marisol Contreras who also attended the event said, “I find the appropriation of black culture offensive, and I believe they should have taken that into consideration before performing in front of the student body.”
While taking all of this into consideration if the Metaphonian Society wants to sincerely apologize to the Whittier College student body, they would return the money they were wrongfully awarded and send a public apology via the student-L. The apology that is currently being sent to society members is coming off as insincere and unapologetic. Speaking on what happened made me question the LEAP Department and their staff. However, it made me wonder how this could have happened on a “liberal” arts campus. I felt very displeased and uncomfortable. During the performance I felt angry and a bit overwhelmed with emotion on how it is possible for people to portray a group of people in such an insensitive way. As a black female, having someone display a group of people based off stereotypes leaves a bad taste in my mouth. From people who aren’t of that culture and don’t understand the struggles one must go through within themselves and who feel defeated by the color of their skin, or knowing how society illustrates those of black skin.
Chelsea McClendon ‘18
* Actions against the Metaphonian Society have been taken and the Society has written a letter of apology for their controversial DubSync performance. The Quaker Campus is aware that such a letter exists; however, the newspaper has honored the Metaphonian leadership’s desire to not publish the letter. The Quaker Campus reached out to the Metaphonian Society for a statement; however, they declined to comment.