Monday, March 09, 2015

SAE Chapter At OU Closed Following Racist Chant Video

Anti-racist message scrawled on the SAE frat house in OK
It's hard to know what happens inside the minds of some Greek fraternity members on the campuses of these United States.

But when the nation and the world see and hear clips like the one that went global showing Sigma Alpha Epsilon members from the University of Oklahoma on a bus enthusiastically singing the words, "There'll never be a nigger at SAE...You can hang him from a tree but he'll never sign with me...", to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands", there's a sense that higher education might not be sinking in with these guys.

The clip is only about ten seconds long, so if you can stomach it, click here and give it a listen if you haven't already heard or watched it - millions of people already have; including a lot of outraged students, teachers and administrators on the campus of the University of Oklahoma.

University President David Boren was quick to condemn the actions of SAE, cut off relations between the chapter and the school and close down the house. Anti-racist messages have already been painted on the walls of the Oklahoma SAE frat house, like the one in the photo above that says, "Tear it down".

After the school's newspaper The Oklahoma Daily learned of the story and leaked the tape, local Oklahoma news stations like KFOR became the first to break the story on mainstream media Sunday evening after the video tape of the offensive sing-a-long had hit the Internet and didn't just go viral, it "blew up".

SAE song leader from leaked video
The thing that struck me is not just the voices raised in song. When you watch it, look closely at the face of the blond guy in the tux walking up and down the aisle of the bus pumping his fist and leading the song (pictured left).

It's like he's ecstatic over their affirmation of bigotry and ignorance. 

Now I've blogged about some of the stupid racist stuff frat boys have been caught doing before, it's not new.

Remember the TKE frat brothers at Arizona State University's little party that took place during the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend last January?

Last year I also blogged about a couple of troubling incidents that took place at New Jersey and New York high schools too - so the Oklahoma SAE-thing isn't taking place in some kind of vacuum.

OU students claim that kind of intolerant attitude is fairly common on frat houses on campus, and these attitudes are being expressed in our schools by (some) American students who will one day make hiring decisions, or approve bank loans or even teach students.

What confuses me about this is that as a nation, we stand here in the spring of of the year 2015 at the precipice of a really divisive time in America in terms of how we see race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation; and this peek inside a corner of college behavior reveals something dark and interconnected to other events that have made media headlines.

The recent release of the scathing Department of Justice report on the behavior of the Ferguson Police Department and courts and how they conspired to target people of color is just one example.

The leaked tape was apparently recorded Saturday, right on the heels of the President joining with hundreds of others in Selma, Alabama to mark the historic 1964 March to Selma which led to the passing of the landmark Civil Rights Act; legislation that affirmed the right of all Americans to participate in the Democratic process.

So what is going on with those SAE brothers from Oklahoma on that bus?

They're young, afforded the opportunity to be in an institution of higher learning; yet there they are in a video dressed in tuxedos with their dates in dresses, on the way to some ritzy function celebrating their frat's "Founder's Day"; gleefully singing about how they will never allow black people to join their fraternal organization.

Is that stupidity, or are they just being naive? Were they just drunk and being insensitive? Or do they all just really despise people with dark skin? Were there some people on that bus who were really uncomfortable about the song but didn't speak up?

Whatever was going on inside their minds is now being shared by people around the world; fellow students, their families, their friends, members of their respective churches or synagogues, and total strangers.

Maybe the collective revulsion so many are feeling will lead to something positive.

Or at the least, make us stop and think a little harder about where and who we are as a nation.

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