Oklahoma frat boys remind us racism is alive and well

By now, it seems as though the entire world has learned of the brutal display of racism by the Oklahoma University chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. If you’re not familiar with what happened, here’s a brief synopsis.
A Snapchat video of OU SAE brothers in a bus singing a song with the N word and making references to lynching to the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands went viral on the web. Not long after, a Vine video surfaced of the fraternity house-mom saying that same word over and over again, while singing along to a song.
It is common for Greek organizations to celebrate tradition with chants, but this gross tune from SAE at Oklahoma is, of course, disgraceful.
While people may plead the ignorance of the South as an excuse or explanation for this, the event echoes the “Stop and Frisk” laws of New York City, which enable racial profiling. And of course, the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson out in the Midwest state of Missouri. The geography excuse is no longer valid. North or south, east or west, acts of racism seem to be in the headlines more and more.
This leads us to the following question: has our country regressed? Or does it just appear that way because of increased exposure due to the constant stream of media?
“Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished, but we’re getting closer,” President Obama said in his speech in Selma, Alabama, on the 50th anniversary of the famous Civil Rights march.
But we are living in an age where 17-year-old kids are being murdered at a gas station in Jacksonville because of loud rap music. And the N word seems like it’s used just a little too often.
“These guys, some of them — not all of them — that feel this way [about black people] after the game … are smiling and taking pictures with us, shaking our hands, giving us hugs,” said Sooners linebacker Eric Striker. “[And] the fact that some of them feel that way behind closed doors when we’re not around really hurts us.”
OU is in the process of hiring a vice president of university community to take on the role of overseeing diversity on campus. They are the last school in the Big 12 Conference to do so. It’s very possible the SAE incident reflects a broader culture issue at Oklahoma’s flagship university.
It was once believed that racism would die out from generation to generation. The video of 20-year-old students in pursuit of a college degree sadly presents the opposite.
Here’s some basic sociology: blacks and Hispanics make up 58 percent of incarcerations in the United States, and yet only account for 25 percent of the American population, according to the NAACP. How many people know that? Probably not too many.
Racism is far from dead and universities across the nation must continue to support academic programs around cultural relativism. UNH has the race and gender course requirement for some majors, which is a good start but not enough.