PHOENIX -- A civil rights activist is calling on Arizona State University officials to take action after a fraternity hosted a racially-offensive themed party before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
"I think that any racist action or action that's inspired by racism or a negative stereotype is stupid," Rev. Jarrett Maupin told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR's Mac & Gaydos. "And that's a word I hardly ever use. I think that, on its face, anyone that engages in racism is engaging in stupidity."
Some have called the actions of Tau Kappa Epsilon a mistake made by kids who didn't give it much thought, but Maupin isn't buying it.
"These aren't kids," he said. "They're young adults enrolled in a university."
Maupin compared the stupidity excuse to that of "affluenza," when a Texas boy was given a lesser sentence after a judge ruled that he was not raised by his parents to accept consequences.
He's not buying that either.
"They knew what they were doing," he said. "If this was ignorant and just some Millennials that had no concept of racism, no concept of the icons of racism, what were they doing making watermelon cups? What do they know about blackface?"
Maupin said the party showed bigger flaws at ASU, which is why he wants three things: The fraternity (currently suspended) permanently banned from campus, all attendees at the party expelled and sensitivity training for everyone in a leadership role -- faculty or student.
"What we want to see is action taken to educate and empower people so that we can preempt the kind of behavior we saw," he said.
Maupin said it's about more than educating a relatively small group of people. It's about what King would have done: Fight racism at the root and discover where things went wrong.
"(How did they) arrive at Arizona State University and be so socially inept and lack any sort of idea of what is historically offensive for another culture? How did they grow up in America, in a hip hop society, a pop culture society and not know what they were doing was disrespectful?"