I am not in a greek organization. I don’t think that it fits my personality, but I support people who want to do it. College is what you make of it, and even though I’m not in a sorority, I love seeing the cute T-shirts for all of the greek events. However, my blood starts to boil when I see three letters: SAE.
As most of us know, greek life dominates campus. Every day you see people sporting their letters around walkways and in every class. Sigma Alpha Epsilon is historically known for being one of the most southern fraternities and was kicked off OU’s campus in 2015 because of a racist chant screamed on a bus full of its members. They used racial slurs and offensive references like “hang them from a tree." Not only was it extremely offensive, but it was so sad that something that racist could still occur today.
Racism is not dead. It surrounds us everywhere we go, especially when something like this pops up. Using offensive language like “hang them from a tree,” in reference to people of color delves into America’s dark history of racism.
Modern-day examples of racism are everywhere — just look at the current president. He literally won an election while being racist, sexist and practicing ableism. We even see it when we are walking to class. Remember the “preacher” who was holding signs that said “BLM are Racist Thugs"? This is an act of racism (in an of itself) right there. It’s everywhere.
Knowing that a specific fraternity has a history of racism, especially on our campus, how could you want to wear its letters? Don’t you think that makes people of color on our campus uncomfortable that you still support a racist organization after it has been told to leave our school? Why would you want to be associated with racism?
When I ask these questions or talk about it on campus, people just shrug it off and say, “Well, those are probably just former members of SAE. It’s not that big of a deal.” But it is, and that just shows how much privilege a person must have to say something as huge as racism is "not that big of a deal." That organization is not welcome at our school. We are a campus that should pride itself on diversity and improvement, not the degradation of an entire group of people. This is precisely why we kicked them off our campus.
Wearing SAE letters somewhere where they have a history of marginalizing people of color is extremely problematic. It can not only make people of color feel unwelcome, but it sets our campus back by excusing the fact that a specific organization did something extremely offensive. It is more than a T-shirt. Wearing these letters shows that you support SAE and its actions, and therefore, do not support people of color. Check your privilege, and check your letters.
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