Watching the news today from the University of Oklahoma’s SAE fraternity chapter has me scratching my head in confusion. The officials at the University and the National SAE organization are moving at lightening speed to show how awful the video with a group of SAE’s on a bus chanting racial discrimination is not a part of the University whatsoever, but I’m still left with a question…
How in the world can you live in 2015 and participate in such behavior?
I’m not naive to think the problem is limited to the SAE brothers on campus. After all, I’ve worked with High School and college students for the last 20 years of my life. I often run into corse jokes, un-intentional bias, and what I might deem carry over prejudice from generations of old. But REALLY? Even if you chalked this up to free speech, or ‘boys will be boys’, how on earth do you live in such a world where you think you might be absolved of any of this behavior?
Racism Is Alive
For those who want to use the excuse that racism is something of America’s past and the news we see is only about the thugs trying to pose as rioters in cases like Ferguson or New York, well..here’s your proof. Racism is alive and well in America today. How else could such a savvy group of college students be so bold to chant racial garbage on a bus knowing full well we live in an age where everyone carries a video camera? Seriously? They weren’t trying to hide. They weren’t trying to cover something up. They were out in the open expressing these vile views in front of everyone. Maybe a case could be made that we need to talk about online behavior and posting, but…WOW!! This is as abrasive as I’ve seen social media work today.
But back to the point…
For those who think racism is over, here’s yet another example of a deep seeded bias in our culture that needs some real attention. The problem is…this is going to take a lot of listening on both sides of the issue, and I’m not sure we live in a culture that is ready to listen.
I heard a rant this morning on the radio about free speech, and how these students deserved the same protection of free speech under the constitution. And I found myself arguing with the radio, “just because you have the freedom to say something doesn’t mean you should.” Where did freedom divorce itself from a responsibility to be concerned about others? I have a hard time reconciling the intent of the constitution to provide a blanket of protection from people shouting racial slurs at others. After all, doesn’t the greatest experiment in the world (American Democracy) begin with “Every man is created with certain unalienable rights. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” And doesn’t that right extend to people of all colors?
I thought it incredibly ironic to watch the march in Selma Alabama this week, and then two days later see this video. On the one hand look how far we’ve come, and on the other Man we have a long way to go.
What Jesus Might Say
Some people want to use images of Jesus to portray this peace-loving, non-offensive, God character who didn’t have to deal with all the stuff the world is dealing with today. But if I may remind you…
Jesus lived in a toxic environment of racism, classism, and religious tension
Jesus lived in a governing environment where Rome dealt a heavy hand to anyone who even thought about expressing views different from Caesar.
Jesus lived in and among family with long ties to prejudice behavior
AND HE DEALT WITH IT
He commands those who follow him to Love God, and Love your neighbor. And I think it’s understood to think our neighbors have different skin colors.
The crazy part about this story is, it happened in Norman, Oklahoma. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Norman before, but this is what many consider to be a part of the “buckle of the Bible belt.” So what gives? If this is the center of Bible believing America, how in the world do these phrases permeate to acceptability in a University Fraternity group down the road from Church row?
Is it because we haven’t taken a long look of self-awareness in our own faith?
Is this just an anomaly?
Or is there something deeper here that needs to be uncovered?
We don’t need to fear mistakes we have made, are making, or will make in the future. But if we want to live in the process of becoming more human like, (read Jesus like) we need to at least identify what’s going on and figure out why?
So…Christians…There you go…How can this happen at OU?