When I first heard the news about the SAE Fraternity video from the University of Oklahoma, I had no idea how truly ugly it was. I didn't see the video until Monday evening, and whatever impressions I had from reading the story were obliterated by the careless display of Racism that I saw. I say careless because the people involved were seemingly unfazed by what they were doing. I have to question how this happens in this day and age because I have no doubt that Racism still exists. I was dumbfounded by the lack of concern these people had for what they were saying.
I believe that these people were demonstrating their ignorance and Racism because they felt they were in a place that made it safe to do so. This indicates to me that these people didn't have to make any real effort to show these feelings. I have already heard plenty of excuses for this behavior, but NONE of those excuses change the FACT that these people are Racists.
The first "justification" was that there had to be alcohol involved. That isn't relevant because alcohol only causes loss of inhibitions, these people wouldn't invent this shit to sing about if those feelings weren't already inside them anyway.
Another "justification" was that this was all some type of good-natured joke. This excuse needs no other explanation to be ignored.
And another response was "We only saw a clip, and that might have been taken out of context". I say that there is NO context other than Racism where their disgusting song could be involved. Also, if this were the case of mistaken context, why was there no additional video to back this up. It seems highly unlikely that someone else wouldn't have captured that other evidence. Plus, the silence from everyone on that bus speaks far louder than any fake apology. I see no evidence to justify, even poorly, the actions of these individuals other than Racism.
I went to bed Monday night with this topic still spinning in my head. I dreamed that I was at my high school class reunion. It is worth mentioning that I started school only a few years after the schools were integrated in the county where I grew up in Kentucky. I was fortunate to have never been part of segregated schools, and I'm very grateful for that.
In the dream, I was at my reunion with the other 1000 members of my graduating class. For some reason, everyone began migrating into groups based on which elementary school we attended. I ended up at my appropriate table, and it was approximately 50% Black and 50% White. The OU video was never discussed in my dream at this table. Instead, it was all talk about how long we had known each other, and the normal things people talk about at reunions. Melissa, Kevin, Valerie, Mike, Cindy, Jerald, Carol, Tom, Christel, John, Phyllis, Tracy, and all the rest. It was an incredibly pleasant and peaceful feeling.
Having designated my age demographic, I return to the present. When I grew up, it was impossible to record every event in our lives as easily as people can today. This is neither a good or a bad thing, its just a fact. Having said that, the kids in college today have grown up with this technology all around them. I find it hard to believe that they didn't realize they were setting themselves up for trouble by behaving as they did. I cannot believe that they didn't notice a phone with a camera being aimed at them as this happened. And even if that were the case, what does it prove? Nothing except they felt they were in a safe environment to express their Racist feelings.
The same technology that captured the disgusting incident also gives us hope for the future. As quickly as the hateful video spread, so did the responses to it. An overwhelming rejection of the video, what it represents, and the people responsible for it. The conversation began immediately, and to their credit, the fraternity and the University took swift and decisive action. There is still much that the national fraternity has to answer for since it seems to foster, or at the very least, permit an atmosphere of Racism within its ranks. The University President took action that some felt was too severe, but most people are in agreement with Hus action and I count myself among those people.
This is yet another painful lesson that Racism is still around. It hasn't gone away. Racism has to be confronted whenever and wherever it appears if we are to make progress against it. Racism has been driven underground to some extent when compared to 50 years ago, but that isn't the same as finally defeating Racism once and for all.
Contrast the Oklahoma fraternity video with the events in Selma this last weekend and we see the truth. The struggle exemplified at Selma is still required today. To do any less is to dishonor the memories of those who have fought and died for an end to Racism.