Richard Raps, Washington Examiner, November 15, 2017
Comedian Steve Martin’s rendition of “King Tut” is triggering social justice warriors at Reed College because they see it as a form of cultural appropriation.
The song, originally performed on “Saturday Night Live,” actually criticizes the commercialization and trivialization of Egyptian history and presents a caricature of the Treasures of Tutankhamun traveling exhibit that toured seven United States cities from 1976 to 1979.
The video and song was brought to students’ attention when it was played in a humanities class at Reed to spur discussion. Students became so worked up over the video, however, that they have demanded the course be made optional until alternative coursework can be created.
The group primarily upset about the video being played in class, Reedies Against Racism, is comparing Martin’s comedic song to the use of the N-word. The Atlantic spoke to members of Reedies Against Racism to get a better idea as to why they are upset about the King Tut song from 1978.
One member of Reedies Against Racism told the Atlantic the song is “like somebody … making a song just littered with the N-word everywhere.” She went on to say that the Egyptian clothing that the backup dancers wear is racist as well. “The gold face of the saxophone dancer leaving its tomb is an exhibition of blackface,” she said.
Reedies Against Racism also released a lengthy list of demands which includes a paid day off for Reed staff to boycott the very college they’re making demands to. Another demand was that the university host “mandatory conferences for building race sensitivity for staff and faculty.” Reedies Against Racism also demanded “the creation of particular scholarships for black students.” Students also want the school to host an “Annual anti-oppression workshop for all students, faculty, staff, and administration.”
Assistant professor Lucía Martínez Valdivia at Reed College, who describes herself as a gay mixed-race woman, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post where she talked about how she is afraid to host classes talking about sensitive subject matter due to these protests.
“Hum 110… perpetuates white supremacy—by centering ‘whiteness’ as the only required class at Reed,” according to a Reedies Against Racism statement.