What happened Sunday March 8th and followed throughout the week over the Racist OU videos marks another act of racism and prejudice in America, following major events like Trayvon Martin’s death and the fatal Michael Brown shooting. Such events have sparked nationwide protests and movements such as The Million Hoodie March and Black Lives Matter.
Although Trayvon Martin’s death and the Michael Brown shooting deal with police and racism, the OU fraternity videos bring national attention to college campuses and racism.
Here at Baylor, I surround myself with others who would never participate in that type of behavior, or so I thought. After posting an article from USA Today on my Facebook page about the video, the unruly Facebook comments debate started.
This first comment claims that the problems arise from people’s ‘feewings’ or feelings getting hurt. The second comment with brief lewd language suggests that one cannot dismiss the fraternity’s actions to just being drunk.
From the comments above, it is clearly understandable that there are students who do not seem to grasp the power that words, spoken or not spoken, can generate. In Jon Stewart’s The Brotherhood of the Traveling Chants, he explores (in his usual comical manner) some of the points brought up in the comments above. The most prominent example of the power of words comes from American history where great speeches were made that sparked millions to fight for their own rights. Books, movies, the media, you name it, all use spoken and unspoken dialogue to promote their own ideas and beliefs.
If students are still thinking this way today in 2015, more than 50 years after the 1964 Civil Rights Act was enacted in the U.S., then there are obvious problems with college student’s education.
Although that is a whole different debate in itself, there needs to be a call to action for college campuses to educate students on the power and influence of racism on campus.
Why do the students in the above comments believe that acting in a racist manner is ‘ok’? Why do some students believe that condoning this type of behavior or dismissing their actions due to being drunk is ‘ok’? How can students deny that the actions on that bus are not racist? If students believe this behavior is ‘ok’, then how can we come to respect one another as equals?
When I came to Baylor during Welcome Week, there were two major topics that we had lectures on: 1) Academic Integrity and the Honor Code and 2) sexual assault prevention and resources. While both topics are important, campuses need to address consequential actions if racism occurs on campus.
Baylor actually has a history of racism on campus. On Nov. 4th 2008, the night Obama was elected president, a noose was hung from a tree on Baylor’s campus.
The Baylor Lariat said, “At 9 a.m. Tuesday, a rope was discovered tied like a noose hanging from a tree outside of Morrison Hall, prompting the Baylor NAACP and Baylor’s Association of Black Students to hold a joint meeting to discuss racially charged events on Election Day. The groups feel the acts were indicative of a racist culture at Baylor.”
Students were also found burning pictures and signs of Obama on and off campus.
As the Waco-Tribune Herald reported, “Baylor students have criticized the school for simply reacting to racially motivated incidents and not encouraging racial tolerance from the first day students step on campus by holding seminars and discussions for freshmen during welcome week.”
In 1998 and in 2012, two Baylor sororities came under fire for wearing offensive Mexican apparel. In 1998, the Pi Beta Phi sorority wore shirts for an annual run they hosted depicting Mexicans running across the border while other sisters dressed up as Mexican gangsters or ‘Taco Cabana’ workers, according to The Baylor Lariat.
In 2012, Baylor student Hannah Ray posted photos on Facebook and Instagram of her and her sorority sisters wearing ponchos, sombreros and mustaches with brown face paint to resemble dirt and hanging signs that said, “GREEN CARD.” These photos sparked national attention from major news sources such as CNN, USA Today and Latino Rebels.
Lori Fogleman, Director of Media Communications at Baylor said in a statement, “Without hesitation, Baylor is an academic community that does not and would not tolerate racism on our campus. If there is an offensive act on our campus and it’s brought to our attention, we have established numerous processes for people to report anonymously issues of any kind. So if brought to our attention, then those alleged incidents are thoroughly investigated by the university.”
Although little information is found as to whether or not Baylor filed an investigation, the persistent offensive and disrespectful racist behavior some students exhibit across all college campuses needs to stop.
Campuses across America need to enact official consequences when racist behavior is displayed from their students.