There Will Never Be Another BLACK S-A-E

IMG_2573There will never be another BLACK S-A-E…. I wish there had been one less. 

My former fraternity broke my heart today. A video was posted allegedly showing members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity’s Oklahoma Kappa chapter chanting a disturbing song evoking images of deep hatred and cruelty that we too often choose to ignore happened in our country. To say it was racist is not enough. It hit me in the very core of my soul when I saw the video.

 I know those bus rides well. I was a member of this chapter 14 years ago. The second BLACK MAN to be initiated in those halls. We had our own songs….different songs…but songs we sang on every bus trip to every date party for four years. We didn’t know where the songs came from or who made them up or even what some of them meant, but we sang them so often we all knew them whether we wanted to or not….

So now 14 years later, my “brothers” now sing this song. This is what gets their spirits united for a great night out with their friends and their dates (one of which, thank God exposed this …this). This is what binds them. But I remember what binded us. I remember the True Gentleman. 

The true gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe. 

Good will. Propriety. Self-Control. Honor. Virtue. Sympathy. 

I wanted to be an Omega. All my heroes from television were Omegas. My cousins are Kappas and Alphas. I went S-A-E. My mother wanted to protect her son from … everything and forbid me to pledge anything. I went through two days of rush just to see what was out there. Every house was the same, everyone looked the same, and I was very aware that no one looked like me. But a childhood friend, of mine, Ben, wanted to see the S-A-E house because his Grandfather had been an Alph and my friend hoped to honor him by extending that legacy. I walked in to what was one of the most confusing houses I’ve ever been in. I met two of the nicest, but, whitest guys of all time (still love you Geoff and Mr. Manley) who told me a lot about the house and what they wanted to provide their pledges. They told me what they expected from their pledges. 

They weren’t selling a hedonistic fantasy, and they weren’t trying to say what made them better than the other houses. It was refreshing… Then I got lost…(I said the house was confusing.) I found a room with a pool table, couches and a big screen. I had my rushee’s nametag on my chest and my National Merit/Achiever’s Scholarship, Math and Science nerd look on my face, when I met a Native American fraternity member, a Brazilian (Venezuelen. Forgive me E.P.) fraternity member, and a couple Caucasian members. They saw the look and they ripped into me and everyone else they saw, light heartedly, but they let us know they could care less if any of us there, whatever our race may be, signed with their house or not. We were in their home. Didn’t matter the color. Didn’t matter the country of origin. They were S-A-Es. Whoever you were out there is great, but once you come in here, you are one of us. Phi Alpha! 

I wanted to be an Omega. All my heroes from television are Omegas. My Cousins are Kappas and Alphas. I went S-A-E! The Pledge class had already been assembled. They had already met and gotten acquainted. They had already had official meetings as a pledge class. They were all equally pigmented. Then I showed up. The only BLACK MAN there. I’d be lying if I said race never came up there. But I wouldn’t be telling the whole story if I didn’t say that when race came up it was from a place of genuine inquiry. People wanting to understand a race they hadn’t been exposed to much. And in my own little self-sacrificing way, I wanted to be that for the house. I wanted to be the guy that shattered all those preconceived notions of BLACK MEN; those stereotypes of fear, that I think (it’s just my thought. It doesn’t have to be your truth) lead to our youth not always making it home from the store with their skittles. I knew when I joined that house, that I’d be looked at differently. Why would he want to be in that house? And I knew it would come from both sides. 

I remember hearing people saying things about S-A-E for having a black member. I remember being shoved into a wall at the school gym by some fellow BLACK MEN who swiped the letters on the front of my shirt and said, “Whose house is THAT, brother?!” 

But I held offices. I was member educator. Song chair. I led Scandals, directed U-Sing, directed Home Coming Pep Rallies (some of the Illest still!). I stood out front and said “S-A-E is different!” We can be at the Mountain Top. And we were different….

But it’s been 14 years since I walked in, and there still hasn’t been a third BLACK MAN. I thought we were different. Maybe we weren’t. Maybe I was just being hopeful. But I believed. I believed in S-A-E. I believed in the True Gentlemen. I believed my brothers were my brothers. I believed my son should be their brother if he so chose one day. 

But then I saw that video. I saw that video speaking of lynching me instead of ever letting me sign. Of killing my 4 year legacy instead of ever letting him wear their letters. And then my son saw my face. My sweet innocent sympathetic son saw the pain and anger in my eyes and I had a decision to make: A decision White America will never understand. Do I teach my innocent 4 year old son about pure hatred today, or do I save that innocence one more day? Do I let him keep going a few more days, weeks, months before I have to start preparing him for this? My mother prepared me…I thought she was wrong. I thought we’d be further by now, but look at the news. Forget this one story, just look at the news. My mother prepared me.  God Bless Her. And I will prepare my son, but not today. Today this BLACK MAN gave him a smile and finished eating dinner with him. This BLACK MAN gave him his bath and got him ready for bed in his perfect little world. I will not take that yet. But when I do, I will take S-A-E away as well. I had my time. I have my friends. 

But I can have no association with this organization as a BLACK MAN. I know these were “kids being kids” and maybe they aren’t the hateful ignorant lost little boys I think they are, but I will not stand behind anything that allowed this to happen. They are not just kids being kids. Those boys are sons. Sons of men who failed them, and they failed my son. You Failed ME! Member 261-057. Your boys sang in unison. They may not know where the song came from or who made it up or even what all the words really mean, but they sing it so often they know all the words whether they want to or not. 

I wanted to be an Omega. My heroes from television were all Omegas. My cousins are Kappas and Alphas….I went..S-A-E? Shame on me. But hopefully, there will never be another BLACK S-A-E. 

-William Bruce James, II

161 thoughts on “There Will Never Be Another BLACK S-A-E

  1. Will, I don’t know you but I was EA in 1979. I am disgusted with this video and the people that participated. There is no way I can make up for what has happened. Just know that I and the SAEs that I know would have always welcomed you as a brother. I found your comments very touching so I wanted to respond.
    My best wishes for you and your son.
    Kent H. Webb MD

  2. For the situation Will, you can’t write a better response and I wanted you to know that. I too, lost a place for my son. As a former member that was involved with the diversity of the house and share ever word you wrote, they FAILED US.

    1. My friends & I danced many nights at the SAE house with you in the DJ booth. I remember a diverse group of guys in the SAE house during my time at OU. My heart aches for all of you whose memories of brotherhood are now tainted by the horrifying racist chant of today’s members.

  3. Will, I remember once Aaron O’Niell standing up to me when some random dude made a prejudice comment about me for being foreign (btw I’m Venezuelan, not Brazilian brother!). Because of guys like him, Big Joe, Jon Davis, Tyson Hiner, and many more…I joined that house. THEY represent what SAE really is. Unfortunately, the quality of people you and I were privileged to meet, and the quality of people who built that house from scratch back in 1995, is no longer there. This “new” generation failed us and like you said not only will there never be another black SAE, but also a Venezuelan SAE. That saddens me.

      1. In all fairness, it does border Venezuela. No need to interrupt the flow. The point was, that there were ppl of different walks of life. It humbles me to know that I had an impact on your decision to join. Thank you for this letter and what it stands for.

      2. Will, what a beautifully written piece. I am a reporter for the Daily Mail and we would like to pick up on this. Can I give you a quick call and also permission to link to your music page?
        Sean
        9172831147

  4. William, I understand your disgust with what has happened… Everyone should be outraged and humiliated with whatever part society has taugh these boys that their actions were okay. But you can be a voice of change to SAE rather than to disassociate yourself from the fraternity. You can’t give up on society just yet. Hopefully there will be many more Black… Latino… any race SAE’s, to change the stigma of our nation. Don’t forget the impact you made on your chapter at the time… the shattering of preconceived notions and even leading the house. There needs to be more people like you breaking barriers, don’t discourage them from pledging SAE, or any fraternity where they may be the minority, because of the ignorance and bigotry of one house. You giving up contributes to our nation one step backward from equality.

    1. I hear what you are saying and appreciate your thoughts. But I respectfully disagree with your last sentence. Sae is a group that gave me many positive things of which I feel somewhat indebted. But ive been an SAE for 14 years. I’ve been BLACK for 31. Anyone can feel free to join any organization they want. All I can say is my family is done with it. I gave faith and trust and loyalty and it was not returned. Having me was the fraternity’s privilege, not the other way around. I love my friends from my years deeply, but that organization does not deserve MY son.

      1. I’m always angered by people who say that, missing the irony of asking us to continue to be uncomfortable for other people’s benefit in a country with a history like ours. You always have the right to do what’s best for you and yours. I wish you all the best.

      2. William this brought up so many memories from when I went though summer & fall rush back in 1986 at OU. All my friends (mostly white) were going though it. I was one of seven blacks at my high school in NW OKC (PCN), so most of my friends were white. Everything was great until it was time to get invited to join a house. I expected to get several offers but none came. I asked my friends what happened? Why didn’t I get in? They were reluctant to say, but they finally said that it was my race. They didn’t want any blacks as members. I was crushed! I never say it. I did finally move on, and never tried rush again. I graduated in 1990, but it still left me a little bitter. I am so glad you broke though, don’t give up on your fraternity, be a change agent. I am proud of my University, and my degree. I refuse to let these bigots and idiots change that! I’m proud of you. Take care.

      3. “Having me was the fraternity’s privilege, not the other way around. I love my friends from my years deeply, but that organization does not deserve MY son.”
        Your entire post was great, but that quote from your comments hit the nail on the head.

        I’m about your age and went to a large, southern, football-worshipping school as well. I chose it for the top-notch journalism school, but I was nervous about rushing my freshman year because I’d grown up in a VERY progressive family and did not want any part of any organization that supported racism or misogyny, be it implicitly or explicitly. To everyone’s astonishment (including my own), I found a sorority where I felt welcome and had a more diverse group of girls. I dated a fraternity boy who seemed a lot different than the others (he even voted Democrat, which was probably more scandalous in that place than if a guy got arrested for any number of things), and we heard the occasional comment from a drunk person that reeked of “they don’t even know how offensive it is…” and I wrote a bit off as “they weren’t lucky enough to be raised by good people, so I’ll lead by example.” But when I went to his fraternity’s yearly event where they had hired local black children from the inner city to LITERALLY pick cotton on their front lawn to recreate the antebellum South, I drew the line. I told the president, the social chair, and several alumni a few choice words about how they were filthy racists who were exploiting children and glorifying slavery, got called the B word more times than I could count, and I said I wouldn’t even walk in the house to condone the event. I waited out front for a cab in tears, wondering how I could convince those children to leave. I went to my chapter meeting the following Monday, positive I’d be thrown out for “unbecoming behavior,” as our chapter often hosted mixers together. I wasn’t, and my chapter president actually took me aside and said she was proud I stood up to them, because others had expressed the same sentiment privately. I was so happy I had joined the right organization.
        Fast forward a decade and a half, and this SAE mess has proven one thing – I don’t regret screaming at them. My date that night (we’re still friends) even commented that while he loves most of the guys he pledged with, like you, he won’t send them his money, and he doesn’t want his son to pledge. will I let MY kids pledge? I don’t know. I guess I don’t have a say in the matter if they’re adults unless they need the money for it, but I can’t get out of my head that I’m terrified that if members of my sorority’s chapter at Oklahoma were on that bus and didn’t say or do anything and instead laughed or – shudder -actually sang along – I don’t even know if I want to admit to my kids that I WAS a member of such an organization.
        I do know one thing for sure. Your organization was lucky beyond measure to have counted you as a member, and by the comments of your brothers below, your light made it better. It’s the assholes who came along after you that messed it up royally.
        Thanks, and sorry for the long comment here.

      4. “Having me was the fraternity’s privilege, not the other way around. I love my friends from my years deeply, but that organization does not deserve MY son.”
        Your entire post was great, but that quote from your comments hit the nail on the head.

        I’m about your age and went to a large, southern, football-worshipping school as well. I chose it for the top-notch journalism school, but I was nervous about rushing my freshman year because I’d grown up in a VERY progressive family and did not want any part of any organization that supported racism or misogyny, be it implicitly or explicitly. To everyone’s astonishment (including my own), I found a sorority where I felt welcome and had a more diverse group of girls. I dated a fraternity boy who seemed a lot different than the others (he even voted Democrat, which was probably more scandalous in that place than if a guy got arrested for any number of things), and we heard the occasional comment from a drunk person that reeked of “they don’t even know how offensive it is…” and I wrote a bit off as “they weren’t lucky enough to be raised by good people, so I’ll lead by example.” But when I went to his fraternity’s yearly event where they had hired local black children from the inner city to LITERALLY pick cotton on their front lawn to recreate the antebellum South, I drew the line. I told the president, the social chair, and several alumni a few choice words about how they were filthy racists who were exploiting children and glorifying slavery, got called the B word more times than I could count, and I said I wouldn’t even walk in the house to condone the event. I waited out front for a cab in tears, wondering how I could convince those children to leave. I went to my chapter meeting the following Monday, positive I’d be thrown out for “unbecoming behavior,” as our chapter often hosted mixers together. I wasn’t, and my chapter president actually took me aside and said she was proud I stood up to them, because others had expressed the same sentiment privately. I was so happy I had joined the right organization.
        Fast forward a decade and a half, and this SAE mess has proven one thing – I don’t regret screaming at them. My date that night (we’re still friends) even commented that while he loves most of the guys he pledged with, like you, he won’t send them his money, and he doesn’t want his son to pledge. will I let MY kids pledge? I don’t know. I guess I don’t have a say in the matter if they’re adults unless they need the money for it, but I can’t get out of my head that I’m terrified that if members of my sorority’s chapter at Oklahoma were on that bus and didn’t say or do anything and instead laughed or – shudder -actually sang along – I don’t even know if I want to admit to my kids that I WAS a member of such an organization.
        I do know one thing for sure. Your organization was lucky beyond measure to have counted you as a member, and by the comments of your brothers below, your light made it better. It’s the assholes who came along after you that messed it up royally.
        Thanks, and sorry for the long comment.

    2. Listen. Don’t advise. Listen to what he’s saying. Stop telling us what to do. Stop making us do the heavy lifting. Stop asking us to be apologist. Stop asking us to make the difference. Stop talking to us about making change. We’re not the ones that need changing or need to make it. You be the voice of change. You carry the cross. I’m tired.

      1. This.
        And I will never understand the draw. I grew up as THE Black student in class and in my neighborhood, but then I had the honor and privilege of attending Howard University– marching, organizing, and learning–all the while breaking barriers in corporate America. Those four years gave me more than could ever be expressed in words. I take the spirit and tenacity and audacity of the Capstone everywhere I go…and my children, too, will be thoroughly immersed in that beauty. College should be more than books and parties. One’s Greek affiliation should be deeper than a few faux friends who really only allowed you in for their own selfish motives or entertainment. I truly wish you’d have invested your time and energy in an organization that genuinely and actively cares about you, your sons, and your community.
        -Signed, a PROUD member of Alpha Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

    3. Lauren, he wrote exactly what he and others CAN DO for change. We cannot continue to turn the other cheek and hope it will change. Drastic changes effect change. I agree w/ the person who said all sports players not play until…,
      I say all students not attend any classes until ALL of the students on that bus including the driver be expelled and fired. Enough is enough. Why do four or ten year old boys of color have to be taught to guard themselves when all they want to do is be young.

  5. Will, I don’t think you could have set it better. When I saw the video last night I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing – this wasn’t the fraternity I pledged. I felt ashamed and disgusted to be associated in anyway with this group. These are not my brothers. I remember the reason I joined SAE was because of the diversity – we had people from all different backgrounds – we didn’t all look alike or dress the same. Sadly it seems this has changed. You were a great big bro to me – and thanks for sharing your post.

  6. Mr. William. I am not a member of SAE or similar orgainzation (please accept that in the spirit it is offered). I don’t know if the answer if your giving up on your organization. I believe we all join organizations because of the values espoused. When things go wrong, if we really love it, we work to make it better. I think you have the opportunity to be one of those who now say, “Hey, the old days are over, this is what it means to be SAE today and tomorrow. Sorry you had to experience it. I’ve seen this before with other fraternities and always wished the Black members strength to make change.

  7. Brother, I am devastated by the events that have transpired. I am a Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and I have/had acquaintances in undergrad who were SAE. Their house was right outside my dorm. We never experienced any problems at all. Now, I’m a college administrator and that story was on our agenda this morning in our cabinet meeting. While, as a man of color, I was taken aback. As an administrator, I cheered both the President of the organization and the University for their quick responses. While I applaud courageous brothers like you who tear down the color-boundaries for the sake of brotherhood, for some it isn’t enough. I am saddened by this but more-so for your feelings toward your beloved organization.

  8. Wow. As a Sigma man (Phi Beta Sigma, Inc.) I have always wondered what made men of color pledge white fraternities. By reading your blog, I kinda get it. To be honest with you, the younger me didn’t like having non-blacks in my organization, but as I grew older and fellowshipped with some of my White brothers, Latino brothers, my Persian brothers and my Asian brothers, I realized how wrong I was in my “purist” beliefs. There may be hope for these wayward idiots, but I doubt it. I fee you still the same. I’ve gone through life being the “only” in several instances; my neighborhood growing up, many of my AP classes in high school, and I’m the only in my administrative office. Again, I feel you.

  9. Will, I know you won’t remember me, but I met you a couple of times at the SAE house, as you were my son Seth’s Big Brother. I would like to publicly thank you for building into his life and also for the powerful piece that you have posted. The line that disturbed me the most was “But it’s been 14 years since I walked in, and there still hasn’t been a third BLACK MAN.” Kudos for being the Second, because if you weren’t, perhaps there would be no response so powerfully and graciously written. All the best.

  10. Beautifully written! It pains me to know that people really see a color when they look at individuals. I do not get it. I have several friends of all races and I don’t see color. I am so sadden for your pain and what has happened. My time at OU was amazing and I can think of several fraternities that had mixed races. Some of these guys were my good friends. I am so disgusted by these boys actions. How hurtful and stupid. I know my words are not as eloquently written as yours, but I just wanted you to know there are others that feel your pain. I am a white white native american girl that has never felt direct racism. I truly can not imagine how that feels, but I know how it outrages me that it happens. All I can really say is- I am sorry for this and how this will forever change your outlook on your fraternity and how it has impacted your son. ~ Truly Sorry!!

  11. Will, darling, first of all I love that you wrote this piece. Secondly as a social media maven, I caution you to remove your phone number from the comments section. Your piece will go viral and you don’t want every Tom, Dick and Jo to know your #.:) That said, I totally understand how you feel. Though I’ve never pledged a sorority, black or white, I considered myself a “rainbow” global citizen and most of my social circles have been mostly white until about four years ago. My mother worried terribly about me, especially when I married a white man (we got divorced). She just worried for my safety. You and I had the blessing not to have to deal with what our mom’s had to deal with in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. For us, wrongly or rightly, all that went underground and we were lulled into a sense of security when it came to race in America. Then we got a black president and well, all hell broke loose. I am a firm believe that not every white person is evil or ever black person is saint, but you cannot grow up in America, be privy to American media, live in a nation built upon the evils of slavery which ended less than 152 years ago in a bitter war that left both sides divided that racism, its origins and its legacy isn’t present in our DNA.
    I think Black people are tired of carrying the torch. We’re tired of educating the society on what they did wrong. We’re definitely tired of being the patient one, the tolerant one the one who has to let you know what’s wrong. I know I am. So it makes me want to wash my hands of this country all together. The idea that we can wipe out racism in America…how naive we all are. It’s ingrained in all of our institutions, our homes, our families and as we can see our children and like I said our DNA. It seems so hopeless.
    But I have to believe it can and will get better. It just won’t in our lifetime. And that makes me sad that another father has to talk to his son about the evils of this world and how, through no fault of his own, he will grow up to have to fight this evil just to get through the day.

    1. Dear Writing Princess,

      Thank you for your heartfelt comments. As a 68 year old white male who has studied and lived a lot of history, I agree with your observations. But don’t give up! Each day is a new day and people can, and DO, change over time, …but admittedly it’s a slow-w-w process.

    2. I appreciated your comments so much all the way down to that advice about having his phone number public. I hope you have kids of your own who are benefiting from your wisdom. You really expressed things in such a clear manner and hit the heads of so many nails. It’s not black people who need to endure injustice and make the change happen. It’s white people who need to change.

  12. Thank you for this. My family is saddened and disgusted by these actions. I thank God my father is not alive to see what has become of this chapter! My 7 yr old son, a triple legacy, will never be an SAE at the university of Oklahoma and my heart is broken. These “kids” have no idea what they have done.

  13. I’m a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, and I’m saddened that your son may never be able to pledge what you pledged. I pray for peace and healing in your life as you grapple with your fraternity. Even still, the greater fraternity of brotherhood is bigger than one form of fraternity. While we may not share organizations, I do share experiences and a commitment with you to make our community better for our sons and our daughters! May the TRUE spirit of fraternity rule our hearts, guide our thoughts and control our lives…even in times when it continues to hide itself from us. My prayers and thoughts are with you.

  14. They broke my heart too sir. Just when I thought the press for my beloved fraternity could not get any worse after kids were dying….this…this…they won’t get my money or my sons. I hope something changes and this passes but deep down I know it wont.

  15. Will,

    I felt the deep emotion in your words, especially about your 4 year-old baby Boy. I also felt the emotion from some of the posters. I have tears in my eyes while I write my paper.

  16. Hi William,

    Your piece is beautifully written. Thank you for your candor. I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and similarly to my fellow D9 brother have always been curious about black men and women who choose to join white Greek letter organizations. Would you mind expounding on your decision to not pledge Omega.

    Thanks.

  17. Mr. James Thank you so much for your post. It touched me deeply. You were a friend of my daughters back at OU. Brittany she was a
    Tri Delta. She is so heartbroken over this and for you. I want you to know. I believe that your son will grow up to be a fine, outstanding young man. Do you know why? You, that’s why. You Sir made your mother, friends and plegde brothers proud today. You are a great American young man. No Race involved just a great young American. Thank you for blessing us with your words. Your son will be just fine. Patty

  18. I just read your article and in light of what has happened on Oklahoma’s campus, I’m glad that both the University adminstration, as well as the National office of Sigma Alpha Epsilon both saw fit to take such swift and strong action. However, it’s hard to sympathize with any Black person who would pledge this particular fraternity in the first place. I mean, just a quick search of the history of the organization; the times in which it was founded, how it was isolated to the South, how almost every member of the organization fought on behalf of the confederacy.. how in the world could any Black person pledge themself to something that originated from something that stood in so much opposition to the rights of Black people? I think this proves just how much Black people have a real problem with seeking acceptance in all of the wrong places. Belonging to this club isn’t akin to integrating a public school, or a workplace, or some other arena that impacts our daily livelihood. What is the goal achieved other than the personal satisfaction gained when a person ignores everything about a private organization and what it stands for in order to gain “acceptance”? I don’t know if your son is being raised as a Black man, but I hope you really will think about what you teach him before he goes off to school and begins to associate with others. The Black Fraternities and Sororities are fantastic, and promote equality among ALL people, discriminating against none, and were built upon a solid foundation of teaching Black people to do good works while acknowledging their wonderful history and achievements.

  19. I am a sorority woman. Graduated 1979. Around during some very prejudice times, but never, never heard such a cruel, racist song or comment. I spent (and still spend) a lot of time trying to dispel the myths about Greek hazing and membership in general. Today, I am so ashamed of my Greek brothers in this chapter. They deserve whatever punishment they get and that includes any member complicit with these practices. This reflects badly on every person wearing Greek letter badges and has set us back to the late 60’s and early 70’s when many fraternities and sororities closed because of bad reputations.

    I apologize from the bottom of my heart though I’m fully aware it won’t help much.

    But I can promise to continue working on educating Greek men and women about the stupidity they exhibit when carrying on any act causing harm to humanity. It casts all of us in s very negative light

  20. What a beautiful letter. I was in a sorority, alpha chi omega, in the 1980’s. I am so ashamed of these boys. God bless you and I am proud of your words. Your momma raised an amazing man.

  21. Mr. James, you do not know me, but we are fellow graduates of the University of Oklahoma. I have read your post “There Will Never Be Another BLACK S-A-E”. Your feelings shown in this article brought tears to my eyes. In the end, I hope there is not every another White SAE ever again at the University of Olahom either. Ever! As you know the national SAE expelled the Kappa chapter today. I hope they never recolonize it in an effort to make the action of these now former SAE members forever rembered so that future students at our University can learn from their ignorant and abhorent behavior. In passing, I was never a member of any fraternity as my undergraduate degree is from Teas A&M, which at the time of my matriculation, did not recognize the Greek system officially. I went on to receive two post graduate degrees from the University of Olahoma. In any case, I would like to extend my sincere, heartfelt apology for the actions of what I hope will soon be newly expelled students of OUR University. It is my hope that people like myself, being white, can bring you some respite from the hurt and sadness you feel today by praying for you, your family, and any other person hurt by these shameful actions. I am still numb from watching it and sad for our University.

  22. “Those boys are sons. Sons of men who failed them, and they failed my son.” YES…. a thousand times yes. Thank you for writing this.

  23. I appreciate your essay very much. When you wrote of when to tell your little boy of the hatred in this world it broke my heart. I have three little boys, two of whom are African American and one who is white. I have had the same feeling of “no, I’m not ready to tell them the harsh reality of racism in our world.” Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  24. I am not only your brother (hopefully not former) in SAE, but also your brother in Christ. We’ve all heard the excuses whenever something like this comes up, and they typically follow the same M.O. The actions of this bunch are not excusable in any way, shape or form.

    The world is full of ignorant fools. Those who choose to live an insular existence, by cutting themselves off from new experiences, wallow in ignorance. Because personal experience is the natural enemy of ignorance. And racism is ignorance. So, what you were doing was assuming the mantle of generating that new experience. You were the catalyst for making that happen. This isn’t just about fraternities or Oklahoma or even the South. This type of behavior is pervasive and exists everywhere — even in the most progressive reaches of society. Because behind the facade of some of those wide smiles is the same old prejudices.

    And so it remains, until someone makes a concerted effort to change it. Anyone can shake their head; that doesn’t take a lot of effort. What does take a lot of effort is what you did. My chapter was extremely diverse, and we all bonded and forged new friendships and discovered new things about ourselves and the way we perceived the world. But it didn’t start out that way — that barrier had to be broken again and again, years before I even pledged, until it took hold. Then, it changed permanently. And not just our chapter, but across the nation. Is it moving fast enough? No. Nothing ever does. But it is moving and it is changing, for the better.

    I joined SAE to be part of something bigger than myself. Bigger than just my chapter. Before this incident, you and I could’ve met as fraternity brothers and given the grip, and then grabbed some lunch — where I would’ve introduced you to my family — and we would’ve connected, despite our differences, but because of our common experiences. And that’s what it’s all about.

    You and I do not share a common experience with this bunch, so in truth? They weren’t really my brothers, anyway. I can’t imagine the disgust and disappointment you feel, but know that I share it as it applies to our fraternal connection. And I respect whatever decision you make, but never doubt that what you did does, in fact, matter. I’m proof-positive of that fact. I came out of college a completely different person than I went in. A better person. Because I was introduced to a diversity that I wouldn’t have experienced had I just gone to school and kept to myself. Or, not taken a leap of faith and simply gravitated toward people I identified with. But all of that had to start somewhere.

    Choices ripple through time. Good and forthright choices make positive waves that affect people down the line that we’ll never know. But the change is there. It does matter. These men didn’t embody the True Gentleman. People are upset that they were exposed? I think it’s great. Get them out of there. Let the light shine on them and reveal them. I’m happy that national kicked them out and shut the chapter down. Swiftly and decisively. That, to me, shows intent and direction. And one that I can support. Because more important than the initial action is the reaction. And the reaction was the right one.

    God Bless and Phi Alpha

  25. I have quietly read the article by Will and all of the responses that have followed. I saw the video and was entirely disgusted by it. It didn’t matter the name of the group, their actions were deplorable. I then found out that they were SAE and I too was dumbfounded. But I am disappointed by what I read here as well. Each and everyone of us need to take a piece of the blame. I too am an SAE. I graduated in 1973 so I have a bit of age on this group. My house was the second house in the history of SAE to pledge a black man. We didn’t know that until years later. In 1969 none of that mattered to us. He was just another cool kid like the rest of us. My son’s half brother is an SAE in Boston. We are two generations apart.. But his reaction has been just like mine. We speak this together. The true gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety Where is this belief by any of you? I took that pledge as a lifelong endeavor. Did not the rest of you? The true gentle man does not idly sit by as other brothers are wrong in their ways. To read Will’s treatment of what he felt was camaraderie Makes me shudder in nearly the same way this current action has made all of us shudder. Each generation has to deal with their own levels of racism and hatred. But if all of you turn your backs and say it is not your problem than you have let every other SAE brother to say nothing of all the “Little sisters of Minerva” at our chapter a little more empty wondering if SAE really meant something after all Phi Alpha and good night. May the Phoenix rise again out of the ashes of this incident.
    Clark

  26. I’m very sorry for you. This must be a such a huge loss. There are institutions that are very important to me, that I associate with some of my happiest memories, and I would be devastated if they revealed themselves to be less than I remembered them.

  27. So… the camaraderie and brotherhood you cultivated during your tenure is negated?? I’m with you in your disgust and disdain, but the men you came to know as brothers did not have that mentality. Why let some young assholes remove you from the organization that you had an affinity for?

  28. I’m an Alpha. I “worked” very hard for my letters. I’m certain you did too. They don’t get to take your letters from you. Not the SAE you earned. They are not more SAE than you. Like most White frats founded before 1980, I’m sure SAE was anti Black at some point in your history. You got in. So as a national fraternity, they are not anti black now. I’m sure I have frat brothers who despise the fact that White men have joined my Frat. Guess what my White frat brothers think about that??? They earned their A PHI A. You think they’re giving them back? Man, represent your Fraternity. Encourage Black men to join your Frat. The Frat is probably MUCH MORE what you joined than what your neophyte chapter brothers were chanting. And YOU ARE THEIR BROTHER!! Whether they like it or not. Some of those idiots were sleeping in the room you slept in. They probably love hip hop. Racist?? Not like their fathers, probably. Whether they are or not has no bearing on anything other than that bus and those idiots in that bus. Truth is, you should be encouraging them to bring the chapter back and then encourage as many “brothas” as possible to pledge SAE!! That will cure that “racist edge” real quick!

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