When @OH_UnHeard, an equal rights group at University of Oklahoma, posted a video depicting members of the University chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon meerily bellowing a racist chant, University and Fraternity officials quickly moved to expel visible members and distance themselves from the very apparent display of anti-Blackness.
To: All Student, Faculty, and Staff “To those who have misused their free speech in such a reprehensible way, I have a message for you. You are disgraceful. You have violated all that we stand for. You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves “Sooners.” Real Sooners believe in equal opportunity. Real Sooners treat all people with respect. Real Sooners love each other and take care of each other like family members. Effective immediately, all ties and affiliations between the university and the local SAE chapter are hereby severed. I direct that the house be closed and that members will remove their personal belongings from the house by midnight tomorrow. Those needing to make special arrangements for positions shall contact the Dean of Students. All of us will redouble our efforts to create the strongest sense of family and community. We vow that we will be an example to the entire country of how to deal with this issue. There must be a zero tolerance for racism everywhere in our nation.
The tone in wording of the email reflected the immediate narrative that the incident on the bus, was merely an isolated incident fueled by alcohol and not deep seated institutional racism. Yet, this was not an outlier but just the latest documented display of the anti-Black racism that exists not only at the University of Oklahoma, but on college campuses across the nation. Its not just SAE. It never was just SAE. Its America.
Its not just SAE that maintains a tradition and culture of anti-Blackness. But many white fraternities and sororities and social organizations on campus. Many incidents don’t garner a hashtag or news headline. Many displays of racism and micro-aggressions are downplayed, ignored and dismissed by faculty and administration.
What emerged from this erasure of black students’ victimhood was the hashtag #NotJustSAE , created by the New Jersey college social justice coalition @NJSHUTITDOWN. The hashtag quickly became a vehicle for students to share their stories and experiences of white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and how micro-aggressions have harmed them.
Here is a look at the twitter conversation that is reshaping the narrative:
— NJShutItDown (@NJShutItDown) March 10, 2015
— zellie (@zellieimani) March 10, 2015
— Tim Fair (@PointWellTaken) March 11, 2015
— Asha (@Bellatora08) March 10, 2015
— Deshawn McKinney (@_NWArsenal) March 10, 2015
What have been your personal experiences with racism at school(elementary, highschool or college?). Do you feel these are isolated events or something deeper?