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UC Irvine fraternity suspends itself for releasing blackface video

May 02, 2013|By Jeremiah Dobruck

UC Irvine fraternity has volunteered to suspend itself after it was blasted for a member-produced video that featured a student in blackface.

Lambda Theta Delta announced Wednesday that it would cancel all major events and stop operating as a UCI-sanctioned organization until fall 2014.

"This decision is mainly due to the abhorrent, insensitive and highly offensive 'blackface' video created by our members that has been circulated widely on the Internet," members of the Asian fraternity said in a statement on their Facebook page.

Lambda Theta Delta came under fire toward the end of April for the video on its YouTube page that showed four of its members lip-syncing to the Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z song "Suit and Tie."

The student playing Jay-Z wore blackface in the video.

Members of UC Irvine's Black Student Union said the video was indicative of a racist atmosphere at the campus and pointed to another video by the fraternity that briefly showed someone wearing blackface at a Halloween party.

"First of all we'd like to point out that this blackface video isn't the first, nor is it the last, example of racism that's been shown on this campus," Ainaria Johnson, co-chairwoman of UC Irvine's Black Student Union, said at the time.

The fraternity removed both videos and apologized.

Lambda Theta Delta President Darius Obana said the "Suit and Tie" video was made by a small group of members unaware of the video's racist implications.

UC Irvine launched an investigation to determine whether that is the case and to decide if any disciplinary action will be taken.

"We are aware that the campus has initiated an investigation of our behavior in several videos involving racial insensitivity and alcohol use," Lambda Theta Delta's statement read. "We are cooperating fully with the university's investigation."

UC Irvine agrees with the fraternity's decision to suspend itself, but the action doesn't halt the investigation or preclude other possible discipline, campus officials said.

"We are encouraged and pleased by the way Lambda Theta Delta has taken ownership and responsibility for the actions of its members," Cathy Lawhon, UC Irvine's director of media relations, said in a statement.

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jeremiah.dobruck2@latimes.com

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck

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