Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity Member from Racist Video / Photo Credit: Zennie Abraham

Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity Member from Racist Video / Photo Credit: Zennie Abraham

WARNING:  NSFW – NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK 

We have all heard about or seen the video of the University of Oklahoma fraternity members from Sigma Alpha Epsilon singing racists lyrics to a song “There will never be a n****r in SAE.”  The university and fraternity‘s national headquarters both responding swiftly to the video and the poor choices made by some members of the fraternity.  However, who is responding and protesting at those within the black or African American fraternities when they are use the word, “n****r” to each other on campus or when they are stepping (the song in this video is Down For My Ni***’s by C-Murder)  to a song with the word in it?  Where is the college campus community outrage?

Words Are Weapons / Photo Credit: id-iom

Words Are Weapons / Photo Credit: id-iom

The Word is Acceptable if People Called ‘it’ Say ‘it’

In the American culture it is a known fact that to say the ‘n-word’ is the fastest way to be called a racist, however there is a double standard here that goes unaddressed.  Why is it okay for black or African-American men and women to use this word?  Are they taking back ownership of a once derogatory word that is rooted with such hate from the days of slavery and Jim Crow laws of the Deep South?  No.  Sadly to them it is just another word to say that has no meaning to them with they casually say it on the basketball court, in a club, at the local mall, or other public venue.  The word is used as a verb, noun and an adjective.  Yet if you confront someone who is using this word, then they get all defensive and in your face or worse attack you.  It would appear there is a lack of cultural sensitivity within their own community.  A lack of self respect and self worth could also precipitate this attitude towards the over usage of this  word, or merely it is a lack of caring.  So is it really acceptable for this word to be thrown around so blatantly?  Community leaders, educators, friends, and family should be angered by the lack of respect when this word is spoken within their own community let alone from someone outside the community.

DJ Spinning Music / Photo Credit: Zak Zavada

DJ Spinning Music / Photo Credit: Zak Zavada

Let the Music Play

When it comes to rap and hip hop music, no other genre of music uses the ‘n-word’ more in their lyrics.  According to rapper, dancer and song-writer LaNasia Wesley estimates in the past 20 years the ‘n-word’ has been used at least over 9,000 times in rap and hip hop lyrics.  While others say it is to hard to count because new music comes out almost everyday.  In YG‘s debut single ‘My N***a’ which was released in September of 2013 and the video released in February 2014, the rap artist uses the word 108 times in one song.  Is it really necessary to use this word 108 times in one song to get the message of the song across?  Would this song if it was rewritten without the word have been such a popular hit for the rapper?  Rapper Jay-Z told Oprah he believes it is okay to use the word within the genre of music.  “For our generation, what we did is took the word and took the power out of that word.  We turned a word that was ugly and hurtful and turned it into a word of endearment. ”  All they did was remove using ‘er’ at the end of the word and replaced it with an ‘a’ which has removed the power out of the word.  Now the word is a term of endearment.  So instead of using the term ‘pookie’ or ‘sweetie’ the word can also be a term of endearment.  Can you imagine Steve Urkle saying that to Carl Winslow or his daughter Laura on Family Matters?  It appears to sell rap or hip hop music, the artists are pandering to their audience in the form of shock value when using this word.  The audience who buys the songs might actually be influencing the use of the ‘n-word’ within rap and hip hop music based on how many downloads there or how popular the song is on the specific charts. 

Comedian and Audience / Photo Credit: Isabelle

Comedian and Audience / Photo Credit: Isabelle

Because it’s Funny

Comedians have used the ‘n-word’ in their routines and audiences are laughing.  People might criticize them for it, however their popularity seems to rise with the notoriety from using the word.  Richard Prior, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock all three have used the word in their stand up routines.  All three have never had anyone stop them while on stage to say this is offensive.  Instead all three comedians have enjoyed great success and played to packed audiences laughing when they hear this word used in comedy.  Rather than the word being offensive, it really is a word that is funny based on the actions of these three comedians.  However, Prior did say, “I don’t want them hip white people coming up to me call me no n****r, telling me n****r jokes.  I don’t like it.  It’s uncomfortable to me.  I don’t like when black people say it to me.  I really don’t know more.

NFL Football Game / Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon

NFL Football Game / Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon

Whistle is Blown as a There’s a Penalty

When you are at sporting events, the ‘n-word’ is tossed around by athletes whether in jest or in an attempt to demean another athlete or referee.   In 2013, Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting diversity and equality in the National Football League, called on players to stop using the ‘n-word’, after recent incidents in Washington and Miami.  In 2014, the NFL discussed having a ban on the word and penalizing players’ teams with a 15-yards penalty.  However, this got some sportscasters mad saying the NFL and Alliance Foundation are going to far here.

J. Ronald Oswalt, who is the CEO and founder of Sports Marketing Experts which operates ProjectSpurs.com, one of the largest NBA blogs in the nation, explained that what is said on the court is extremely different from what’s said off the court.  “What is said on the court is between individual players and though it may be used in a derogatory way, it is not a blatant attack against a specific race,” Oswalt said. “Many things are said in the heat of battle that are quickly forgotten and forgiven, chalked up as something said under pressure or excitement. What is said on the field, court, etc., stays there.”  Mr. Oswalt appears to dismiss any wrong doing when using this word.   Is it okay to use this word in the heat of battle?  After all, it is just a game right?  Is anyone mad as these athletes who are viewed as role models by so many youth and the message they are sending them?

There is also the  “2013 Person of the Year” accolade that was given to the ‘n-word’ by ESPN columinist Jemele Hill.  This really should have people angry that a word can now be a person of the year, especially a word that is so polarizing.

Books Dead Poet's Society / Photo Credit: Veronica Roth

Books Dead Poet’s Society / Photo Credit: Veronica Roth

Dead Poets Society

Writers Joseph Conrad, Mark Twain, and Charles Dickens have used the ‘n-word’ in some of their works.  This should have librarians and literary scholars building a fire, yet it does not.  The reason is that in the different author’s writings the word was less offensive during the time period than it is today.   These are some of the world’s most famous literary figures of our time, and therefore should this  still make us angry?

Stop Racism / Photo Credit: Mike Gifford (m.gifford)

Stop Racism / Photo Credit: Mike Gifford (m.gifford)

What has made us angry instead is a video of drunk underage Caucasian men chanting something that appears to have been a song part of the past of Sigma Alpha Epsilon or could just be rooted within that one now former fraternity chapter.   The Fraternity’s OU chapter has closed, the members suspended and there is still an ongoing investigation in the incident.  OU has formally expelled two students, who were identified on the video, as Levi Pettit, 20, and Parker Rice, 19.  Both students have issued apologies whether through their own words or their parent’s words (or attorneys).  Time will heal these wounds for all involved and as a society we are will learn from this evolving towards a better future.  For Pettit and Rice, they will have learnt a hard life’s lesson.  Freedom of speech is a great freedom to have granted to you, remember with it comes great responsibilities as well no matter who you are in this world.                      #FreedomofSpeechHasConsequences

What are you thoughts, let me know as I’d like to hear from you?