The University of Oklahoma has expelled two students and removed the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity for their racist chant recently caught on video. Whether the university had the legal right to do so will be decided in the courtroom. No doubt first amendment rights will be invoked. Even so, some protected speech simply has consequences. So, a few thoughts regarding this matter:
1. Fraternities have never been known for their inclusivity. They are exclusive by their very nature. Maybe it’s time to reconsider their place on a 21st century college campus.
2. The ‘n-word” has no place in our vernacular. I am reminded of the words of a colleague of mine: “You cannot refer to someone as a ni**er and not act niggardly towards them.” The use of the term by all needs to cease. It cannot be reclaimed or repurposed.
3. More education needs to occur on what racism actually is. Anyone can be a racist. Racism, however, is prejudice times power. That means one group benefits more than all others. That these college students thought they could join in singing a racist chant and get away with it, and they would have were it not for someone present with a conscience and a smartphone, was both arrogant and a function of institutionalized racism. Responsible and productive education about racism needs to be introduced from the moment every child enters Kindergarten.
4. Parker Rice and Levi Petit, the expelled students, need not be thrown out of society. They participated in an indefensible act for sure. But their transgression pales in comparison to the racism that exists in the halls of government, in the pews of many churches (not all!), local law enforcement agencies (again not all), and, yes, educational institutions. They cannot be made the scapegoat for a wider problem. But they certainly learn their lesson. We all must change on all matters of discrimination.
5. Shout out to fellow North Mesquite High School alum, Jean Delance, for your decision to go elsewhere. I’d like to see you in a TCU uniform, but suit up where you and your family feel is best for you. Respect!