Everyday Racism

Many people may have seen the video I linked to above. If you haven’t, you aren’t really missing much, apart from negligent hate. In essence, the video is taken of members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity happily chanting, a not so happy song about lynching ni$%#%s.

The video appeared to be taken by a member of the fraternity and posted on YouTube. This lead to outrage across the land of the internet. And rightfully so.

David Boren, the president of the University of Oklahoma tweeted out this response after the video surfaced.

First off, I am just going to state that I am happy with the response and the discussion that it can create. I think it shows the progression North America is working towards as a society.

The only thing is, is that this is just a small step in the right direction. I will say in some ways that it is just “unlucky” that this particular frat was exposed for its very evident social injustices. But, this is just a small glimpse of what happens between very closed doors. It took someone within the frat to expose what was going on.

This frat is just a small representation of a group mentality that promotes “traditional” thinking for a lack of a more comprehensive term.

Racism isn’t always a big, ugly and publicly in your face attack on an individual. In this situation it was a group of privileged fraternity “brothers” who felt comfortable to sing a song. They probably didn’t really think of its implications or really have much of an opinion at all.

A little personal example comes from my experience as a waiter at the well known “Italian” restaurant chain, East Side Marios. I started working there as a host and progressed to becoming a waiter. Many of my co-workers began to complain/for warn me of the impending spiral into racism and prejudice that was a certifiable guarantee in my work as a waiter.

This chain is located right next door to the University of Waterloo, and as such, there were a LOT of students. They told me of all the little “tips” that they had come to uncover in their time serving. The key factor in this is that the University of Waterloo is a fairly racially diverse school with a large population of international students.

I was essentially told that if I wasn’t currently racist, that would soon change as I was exposed to the horrors of hindered tips based on minorities.

They pretty much confined everyone into two section:

1. Those who don’t tip

2. White people

They essentially told me “It’ll happen, just you wait”.

I guess were this story brings me to is that racism and prejudice happen in many different facets. It is wonderful to see the progression that we are making. Mainly in that it is not socially acceptable to be racist on a national level. We condemn the acts of this fraternity. But, people rationalize hate all the time and find a means to justify their intolerance.

So, it begs the question. How prevalent is racism in society? How do songs like this persist and has the reaction to this video truly changed anything? Or has it shifted the lives of those involved and pushed bigotry into more private quarters?

What can we do in our daily lives to stop social injustices and fight against prejudice, racism and hate?

I think first and foremost we must look to ourselves. It is our choices that define us. I ask you to choose to combat hate. When you hear or see hateful acts, consider speaking up, educate yourself and others and help end a world of bigotry.

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