When video surfaced of racist frat boys singing a racist chant, the response of Oklahoma University administrators, politicians, celebrities, and the public alike was swift. Already, two students were expelled, Waka Flocka cancelled his upcoming concert there, and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter is forever tainted.
There’s so many messed up things about the entire situation. Here’s just a few I could come up with.
1. The same frat is responsible for the hazing death of a Black man.
Four years ago, the Cornell University chapter was shut down after killing George Desdunes. Found dead by a cleaning crew, Desdunes, the son of Haitian immigrants and a 19-year-old aspiring doctor, was hogtied and was forced to drink toxic sums of alcohol.
2. SAE is known for being racist.
Despite the statement from SAE national leadership, the frat attracts the most racist elements. The chant is popular with the University of Texas chapter, and the house mother is shown on camera using racial slurs.
3. These racists were set to be politicians, lawyers, business leaders, administrators, community stakeholders …
4. White silence
Notice in the video, there were women there who weren’t singing along, but were participating in their silence. It’s unclear who these girls are, but the Tri Delta sorority is “cooperating fully” with the ongoing investigation.
5. Black people harmed in the fallout.
After the swift action of OU administration, Howard, the SAE house cook, also suffered. He lost his job after OU shut down SAE’s doors. Fortunately, two crowdfunding pages have been set up to help him. Collectively, close to $57,000 has been raised on Indiegogo and GoFundMe.
And should we go into the historical nuances of a Black man cooking for a racist frat? Paula Deen anyone?
6. Respectability Politics. Ugh.
Respectability politics won’t save us. Being good Black folk won’t stop racism. It’s a shame some of us are still enslaved to such a bullshit mentality.
7. Racism is a learned behavior.
Someone taught them how to be racist. Who was it?
8. For every video that surfaces, there’s fifty that don’t.
I don’t think this video is the exception — I think it’s the norm. From my personal experience, I find that white boys, particularly those in frats, have no qualms about using racial slurs…just so long as there’s no Black people around.
9. The narrative: “It’s okay to be racist, just don’t get caught.”
Although the reactions are more than warranted, I can’t help but think that the SAE (the chapter, the participants, and leadership) are less concerned about the harm they caused an entire race of people, and are more sorry for themselves. They’re sorry they’ve been caught, and if they could go back…they’d make sure their antics weren’t being recorded, instead of avoiding such antics altogether.
10. Black trauma.
The video surfaced following the death of Tony Robinson and just before the death of Anthony Hill. The scandal broke during Selma50, where leaders across the nation converged to the historic battleground of racial equity. Black folk have been through so much trauma in these recent years. And this is just the cherry on top. So far, mainstream America has commodified our stories through police brutality, and not the very daily forms of racism we face every.single.day. Racism exists. But no one believes us until a video surfaces.