The stark, blatant racism of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma caught us by surprise, but perhaps it shouldn’t. In this quick take, I discuss how institutional racism lets hateful traditions prevail.
I’d be surprised if any of those SAE guys made up that chant themselves. I’d bet they were taught to hate and continued to spread that hate without thinking. After all, the fraternity was founded in the Deep South right before the Civil War, it still brags about its ties to the confederacy, and it has had a history of discrimination.
It’s sad that people born in 1996 can be just as racist and hateful as those who came 100 years before them. It’s no wonder that we have to remind people across this country that Black Lives Matter when there are still young white college students who don’t even appear to regard black people as human. This ongoing racism in our country definitely transcends a couple of mindless frat boys. It’s not just SAE. It’s everywhere, overt and covert, personal and systemic.
I think this is also important in the context of Selma 50. We have politicians who wouldn’t even attend that anniversary because they’d like to pretend that racism is over and that we don’t need the Voting Rights Act anymore, despite all the evidence that racism still exists today in some of the ways it did 50+ years ago. If we’re ever going to defeat it, we must at the very least acknowledge it. [Medium | Tumblr]