“That was the alcohol talking.” How many times have you heard this?
I guess that comment also would have something to do with whom you hang around with.
There is another group of folks for whom Demon Rum turns into a truth serum, causing them to spew venom that has been dormant for some time.
And, where there is a group of drunks, you can count on a chorus of people harmonizing what they really feel in their hearts.
Well, enter the recent outing of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon frat boys from the University of Oklahoma and their loathsome, racist, N-word-laced chant on a bus. You would think that a bus would be a place for a drunken bunch of frat boys to have a racist singalong with a degree of peace and privacy.
“There will never be a (N-word) in SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me,” the cowards sang. They probably wouldn’t repeat that verse in front of the Oklahoma football team.
Someone recorded their little ode. But don’t believe they are the only cats with those stripes. My guess is that new “No smartphone” policies probably went into effect across Greek nation once this story broke earlier this week.
Even the fraternity’s saintly housemother was filmed using a racial slur while singing along to a rap song at the fraternity in 2013.
Once the world found out about SAE Boomer Sooners, the next thing you know, some of the frat boys boo-hooed, and a couple asked for forgiveness.
In reality, they probably were not sorry for what they said; they’re sorry that others found out they said. Now, everyone knows that they’re idiots, cowards and racists.
One of the main speakers in the gone-viral video was a young man, Parker Rice, who said, “I admit it likely was fueled by alcohol consumed at the house before the bus trip, but that’s not an excuse. Yes, the song was taught to us, but that, too, doesn’t work as an explanation.”
As a person who has maybe once — OK, twice — had slightly more sips of alcohol than I should have, I never sang hateful songs about a race of people or anyone. Never even thought about it. And my guess is there are hundreds of millions of people like me of all races.
SAE has been involved in several racist incidents, all while staking claim to being one of the most brutal fraternities in the country. SAE has had nine deaths linked to drinking, drugs and hazing since 2006, more than any other Greek organization, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.
But there is something else: Fraternities like this have power. Their members are usually sons of the rich and influential, some whom may be just fine with those racist verses.
They are on Wall Street, Main Street and your street, where they have the keys to great jobs, and the power to influence legislation and determine the outcomes of economic development.
Think about it. One of the offensive lines caught on the video was “There’ll never be a (N-word) in SAE.” Let’s take that logic one step further. If these guys were starting a company — let’s say in Louisiana — and are the beneficiaries of millions of dollars in tax breaks (some of which is my money), there would be little to stop them from denying employment, promotions or even subcontracting deals to qualified African-American-owned or any other minority-owned company.
There were a number of people who came to the defense of SAE’s finest singers, vouching that they are upstanding people who got carried away by the alcohol and the moment. With all of the movers and shakers who are SAE members, many probably are not racist.
But, I look at this just the way Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Parcells did when assessing a football team. Parcells said, “You are what your record says you are.”
Edward Pratt, a former Advocate editor, is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is email@example.com.