Responses to the Fraternity video

On Tuesday morning (March 10), we posted Pat McGuigan’s report on initial responses from state legislators concerning a video of fraternity members reciting racist phrases. That story, including comments from several prominent black Oklahomans, can be viewed here.
Here are  comments from several other Oklahomans concerning the recent events:

Sen. Jim Inhofe – “I am in strong support of OU President David Boren’s swift response to the video of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members’ chanting racial slurs. 

Boren made the right decisions to sever all ties with the local chapter and send a strong signal that racism will not be tolerated.”

U.S. Sen. James Lankford:
“The hateful video of some fraternity students that surfaced over the weekend is disgusting and does not reflect the values of the state of Oklahoma. This is not who we are. We are a state that embraces cultural and ethnic diversity at every level. We must clearly speak out against this type of bigotry.

Our state has made significant strides since the Tulsa race riots and the days when Clara Luper led our state out of ignorance; we must continue that progress.” Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin:“The racist words chanted by the students in this video do not represent OU values or Oklahoma values. 

As the outrage among Oklahomans has demonstrated, we are a state that does not tolerate that kind of disrespectful behavior. I appreciate President Boren as well as OU’s faculty, staff and students for quickly condemning these hurtful words and demonstrating the true nature of our Oklahoma community, which is diverse, compassionate and respectful.”


Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma Executive Director:
“Sixty-six years ago and after two trips to the United States Supreme Court, Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher became the first African American student to be admitted to the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Even after her admission, she was still segregated from her white peers. With a legal team that included Thurgood Marshall, her case played a critical role in the end of the separate but equal doctrine. 

“As monumental as that victory may have been, the video showing SAE fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma singing a disgraceful racist chant serves as a stark reminder that racism is very much a present reality.“We offer our sincere appreciation to the students, faculty and staff who have joined together in solidarity against hate and racism. They remind us that the spark in Ada Lois Sipuell Fisher still persists in the minds of those who benefited from her work. 

Let history say the same of us. At the very least, this awful incident must prompt a robust conversation and a review of every aspect of campus life so that we can combat persistent discrimination and realize racial justice.“And, as the fates of the students at the center of this controversy unfold, we encourage the administration to demonstrate their commitment to due process; for it is often in protecting the rights of the very worst, we are able to demonstrate our fullest commitment to justice.”

Brady Henderson, ACLU of Oklahoma Legal Director:
“We join with OU President David Boren, as well as the majority of OU students, faculty,and alumni, and with an overwhelming number of Oklahomans in their disgust at SAE’s conduct this past Saturday night. 

While many Americans paused this weekend to reflect on the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous march in Selma, Alabama, these students marked the occasion by mocking one of the saddest chapters of American history, the mob-fueled, government-sanctioned murder of African Americans. These students remind us that despite King’s victory in Selma, and other battles won by countless citizens with the courage to face hate head-on, racism is not dead or even dormant in modern America, even on our college campuses. We applaud President Boren’s aggressive response to the SAE’s actions, and we encourage the OU administration to be equally aggressive in ensuring that the due process rights of students remain protected throughout any disciplinary processes against Fraternity members.“

The deep-rooted problem of racism will not be solved by discipline alone, but by open and honest dialogue and an accounting of where we are and where we need to go not just in our universities, but in the communities university students will one day lead.”

Nathaniel Batchelder, the Peace House, Oklahoma City:
“The O.U. fraternity members videoed chanting racist slogans were guilty of openly manifesting attitudes they have witnessed most of their lives as acceptable among some white conservatives. 

“Since the early 2000’s, Rush Limbaugh has mocked the ethnic intonations of blacks with whom he disagreed, from Rev. Jesse Jackson to black women talking about “their children.” “Thinly-veiled racist ridicule accelerated with the 2008 election of President Obama.  Some of his opponents circulated chain emails decrying his race;  insisting he was born in Kenya;  depicting him as a chimpanzee.  One “joke” was that “The zoo has an African lion, but the White House has a lyin’ African.”   

“Political disagreement is normal and natural. But, unprecedented behaviors insulting to the Presidency of the United States are imaginable only if the president is black, as, Congressman Joe Wilson’s shouting, “YOU LIE” during a 2009 Obama speech to Congress; or Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s finger-wagging lecture to the President as they stood publicly on the tarmac. “America is not yet liberated from its racist history, and will not be so long as racist words and behavior are tolerated by people who know better, but say nothing.” 

From Facebook:
Original post by Ersin Demirci (Dialogue Institute of OKC). Demirci posted a photo that read:  #Racism #Bigotry #Hatespeech NOT ON OUR STATE

Ashia J. Shah
“Racism starts at home. I had a first grader in our school who kept referring to an African American boy in our class as Obama. Of course I was not having that and had to complain.
Freda Jones Deskin
“Disgusting and embarrassing that any parent would teach such racism and feelings of entitlement. 

These young people aren’t worthy of being called SOONERS. They and their parents are a disgrace to humankind. Sad.”

Joseph S. Mecham 
“For racism to be truly a footnote in history, there need to be changes across all ethnic groups. 

For example, a certain racial slur used in the chant on the bus is still commonly used by the ethnic group slandered by its use. That has to stop! It isn’t right to say one ethnic group can use it in their music and another ethnic group can’t use it at all. Cleaning this up begins in the home and with everyone. In this situation, everyone should vow not to use ethnic slurs no matter their race.”David Howell “Words are powerful if we stop using the word racism people may stop being racist.”

On twitter:

Coaches and athletes react

Gabe Ikard @  GabeIkard  
“The OU SAE debacle is a perfect example of actions having unexpected consequences. One bus of idiots made an entire university look racist.”

Guerin Emig @  GuerinEmig  # Sooners basketball coach Lon Kruger, who attended demonstration: “It’s something that should concern everyone. It’s not about athletics.

Oklahoma Blogger Zack Hale:
“People who say or do racist things deserve to be shamed for their words or actions, but shame itself won’t prevent these things from happening. In order to correct centuries-old prejudices, the change needs to be systemic. And unless a broader, more impact message is communicated to those who run this state, Oklahoma will forever remain a sanctuary for the hateful and narrow-minded.”

Other facebook statements:

Michael Givel
 “Frankly, I have seen examples of this entrenched problem at all levels of Oklahoma society. Some more subtle than others.” 

Kurt Hochenauer 
“There’s been a lot of media attention given to the OU racism controversy in the last couple of days and rightly so, but other forms of bigotry are going on as well. This state seems like a cesspool of hate right now.” 

Four-star recruit, Jean Delance, de-commited from Oklahoma in the wake of a racist video. 
Petros Papadakis, Bill Reiter and Metta World Peace explain what it took for him to make this decision and the impact it will have on the program.“ First I want to say thank you for giving me an opportunity to play football at OU, but I have Officially de-commited from Oklahoma university. Nothing to do with the staff or team.  I’ll be reopening my recruitment due to personal reasons.

It’s hard to believe that that actually happened. It’s sad the ignorance that can still be there with some people.” 

Bob Stoops told the Tulsa World “It’s just appalling. I was here to be with my guys. We all work with beautiful young men.

“We apologize for the unacceptable and racist behavior of the individuals in the video, and we are disgusted that any member would act in such a way. Furthermore, we are embarrassed by this video and offer our empathy not only to anyone outside the organization who is offended but also to our brothers who come from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities” Sigma Alpha Epsilon wrote in an online statement.

NOTE: These quotes were gathered from online sources, by Darla Shelden and Pat McGuigan of The City Sentinel staff.