Frat Cancels Their Egyptian-Themed Party After Being Accused of 'Cultural Appropriation'

ashley.rae | August 25, 2017
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An ancient Egyptian Nile-themed fraternity party at the University of Michigan was canceled after the group was accused of cultural appropriation.

The Michigan Daily reports in a post on Facebook, the Alpha Theta Chapter of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity was planning to host an event called “The Nile” in which attendees “honor our Egyptian roots.” It encourages participants to dress up as “a mummy, Cleopatra, or King Tut” or to wear robes and headdresses.

There was an immediate accusation of cultural appropriation:

In response to the backlash, the fraternity issued a statement on Aug. 19 saying the event was “immediately canceled” after concerns were raised about appropriating culture.

“We pride ourselves on being a diverse social fraternity with members from a wide variety of religions, races, backgrounds, sexual orientations, and other identities. It would never be the intention to make anyone from any group, especially a group that has been the victim of oppression for many generations, feel unwelcome or uncomfortable,” it said.

“We completely accept all responsibility for this ordeal,” the statement continues. “We will begin an education effort to teach ourselves how our actions have an effect on people from a wide variety of backgrounds. This situation will sent as a very teachable moment for every Brother of our chapter by beginning a very important dialogue with those affected.”

But Yasmeen Afifi, the complainer who claims to be the president of the Egyptian Student Association, wasn’t finished. On Aug. 20, she wrote a lengthy Facebook post saying she wasn’t surprised that it was a “white fraternity” hosting the event, asserting, “White people have invaded, stolen, erased, and defaced numerous ancient Egyptian artifacts, symbols and temples in attempt to claim one of the greatest civilizations as their own.”

She continues:

Europeans have worked so diligently to eliminate all traces of African facial features by lightening skin colors of painted relics inside tombs and temples. Western invasion has also fostered colorism still seen today within the Egyptian and African communities, to the point where beauty concepts and our mentality have been colonized. You constantly erase our identities by casting only white characters to portray ancient Egyptians (as if they could last in desert climate). Ancient Egypt is a classical African civilization that will be recognized as such.

What the bros at Delta Sig don’t know is that those Egyptians still exist today and their legacy runs through our veins. You can’t justify your culture appropriation and Cleopatra costumes because you think ancient Egypt was a mythical civilization of the past. Egyptians still exist, we aren’t mythical creatures that vanished in fairy dust. We are still here- existing, thriving and evolving. Don’t fetishize our history and culture.

The national chapter of Delta Sigma Phi then chimed in, saying, “Cultural insensitivity and appropriation have no place in our organization.”

This is not the first time a fraternity at the University of Michigan has been under fire for its use of culture. A 2013 “Hood Ratchet Thursday” party was canceled after formal complaints by the administration.

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