Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Oklahoma ain't OK

The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Well, thank god for social media.

We have on video a group of white fraternity boys from Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) at the University of Oklahoma making racist chants on a bus trip.

Here's what they chanted: "There will never be a nigger SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me."

Even their charming house mom got exposed using the N-word when a 2013 video surfaced online.

The president of the university immediately closed that chapter of the fraternity and kicked two of the "cheerleaders" out of school. One of the expelled apologized.

The legendary football team lost at least one recruit and could lose others, as could the basketball team. Sadly, an African-American chef lost his job when the frat house was shut down.

The comments on this Yahoo story are indicative of the pulse of America: We are a nation of racists and bigots as well as upright, ethical citizens.

Some of the commenters and even some experts have framed this incident as just an expression of free speech, our First Amendment right. No biggie. Nothing to see here, move along.

Yes, and free speech has consequences as the frat boys found out. If they were allowed to remain in school, their safety could not be guaranteed. Talk about yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. They would be stampeded.

Amid the vile online comments, I was amused by this one: "Dear Oklahoma. Thanks so much for giving us a day off as the punchline state. We needed the rest. Love, Mississippi and Alabama."

Coincidentally, the SAE, no stranger to controversy, was established in 1856 at the University of Alabama, which fought long and hard to exclude African-Americans from attending that school.

It's not surprising that frat guys acted this way. Fraternities have always been known for their juvenile behavior, degrading initiations and hazing incidents that "bond" the boys to think and act as a group, not as individuals. In essence, they're the opposite of what a college education represents.

Of course, Oklahoma is certainly not alone with racial issues. In fact most, if not all, major institutions of higher learning have racists in their midst. However, most choose not to share this on facebook, aka "the Chronicles of Narcissus."

What has long troubled me, particularly since this is now 2015, exactly 150 years after the Civil War ended, is that almost all of the football and basketball players at the major universities are black, while the fans, including the student sections, still are mostly white.

We're a nation of hypocrites because we want the black athletes to make all that money for the schools, we just don't want them in the stands or attending the college if they're not athletes. Less than 5 percent of the OU student body is African-American.

Yes, we have an African-American president, but the fault-lines in the racial divide since his two elections have deepened and widened in this country.

Don't blame President Obama. He's bent over backwards, to the chagrin of some in the black community, to avoid the racial issues of the day.

Now, deep into his second term, he's telling it like it is. He's got nothing to lose.

It's encouraging that David Boren, the white president of the University of Oklahoma, acted so swiftly, definitively and correctly. Unfortunately, judging by the racist online comments, he'll get a dose of what President Obama has endured when the death threats start rolling in.

This racial episode in Oklahoma is a manifestation of how our white members of Congress and some members of the media have treated President Obama. The frat boys must have thought it was all okay.

Well, it isn't OK.          

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