Opinion: SAE chant is reflective of racism on the university campus

Amanda Paniagua is a graduate art history major. Contact her at azabudsk@kent.edu.

Amanda Paniagua is a graduate art history major. Contact her at [email protected]

I am grateful that the editors of The Stater took constructive criticism to heart and re-released another “Our View” Monday that absolutely condemned the racist SAE chant.

I thought it might be helpful to the student body to share the criticism I presented to the editors because I am sure that other students will continue to talk about this particular incident.

I want to caution students, as I did the editors, from evoking language that confuses who the real victims are when discussing this incident because to do so, is to operate under incredibly harmful thought processes.

If someone says, “It’s not fair to Greek organizations!”

You know what isn’t fair?

That black life is denigrated and pathologized in the media continuously. Furthermore, it is unfair when instances of gross racist remarks and actions surface, that the same media is quick to condemn those who dare to speak out against it as though it is the fault of the community being affected rather than the racists who are perpetrating harmful and abusive ways of thinking.

For any Greek organizations and members that feel deeply upset and victimized as though their entire reputation and mere existence is being called into question by the actions of a few individuals, well I want to congratulate you because you now know what it feels like to be marginalized.

If someone says, “This will ruin their reputation!”

You think it’s bad for SAE members?

Imagine being a black student and having to hear that chant and see the gleeful cheer of those participating in it! They literally were singing about hanging black people from a tree. Hanging — as in murdering, complete with laughter and smiles.

But you want me to not mischaracterize them? I think they did a fine job characterizing them when they choose to participate in such a chant.

If someone says, “This makes all Greek organizations look racist!”

It does not follow that because the SAE incident was perpetrated by a member of a Greek organization that all Greek organizations are inherently racist (the glaringly obvious reason being that there are non-white Greek organizations).

It is possible to still condemn racism but uphold the positive attributes of Greek life. The two are not mutually exclusive.

To rush to do damage control, however, doesn’t fix the conditions that allowed for this disgusting act to happen in the first place. It only avoids the issue completely; the issue being that remnants of racism have been left over in this particular social institution.

If someone says, “This is an isolated event! Racism is over!”

Racism is alive and well on our university campuses.

I encourage you to do a very surface level search for the history of how Greek organizations on university campuses came into existence. Specifically, examine why black Greek life came into existence.

If we don’t know our own social history, we are bound to repeat the same social injustices.