Old Man Young Rants: SAE

White friends? Is this what goes on when a bunch of you — not you personally, of course — get together and think no one else is around and listening?

(I mean, I know what happens when a bunch of black people are in their element. They sit around, get loud, and talk about how racist stuff is.)

That’s really a rhetorical question because I know it is. Not all of you. Not even most of you. But a one-in-every-room you unless the world has drastically changed in the past decade or two. I’ve had white friends confide how racist their roommates, classmates, and coworkers can be. I’ve been in the room when some of them thought I was cool enough to hear it. I’ve been in the room when people forgot I was there.

I’m not particularly surprised by or upset about this. Frankly, I don’t have the energy to get all riled up over every “That’s so racist” thing in the news, but I did feel like writing and a blogger should be relevant to current events. I wonder how old this chant is.

I don’t expect people to do or say anything concerning the SAE video but I would appreciate it if you all just took note. These guys are going to be someone’s well-networked future coworker, boss, supervisor, representative, etc. To some extent these are the guys (and the girls who were sitting there) who will control the gates to society and opportunity.

When you see this stuff in the news or in your timeline or at a family gathering I hope that you don’t just tune it out.

If you have black friends, picture their faces. Maybe your friend is me. Imagine me on my own at a ski resort for the first time. Picture me at a job interview at a tech company. Picture me on an online dating site. Picture me applying for a loan to buy a house in a nice neighborhood near a state park.

What I’m saying is that, as a minority, I navigate a world of whiteness every day. It can be alienating. It amazes me that anyone can be comfortable living a segregated social life and not even be remotely aware of it. Not having to be aware of it. In theory, you can slot right in to any social situation with the change of an outfit or hairstyle. That’s powerful stuff.

Suppose I’m in college looking for a frat to rush.

There will never be a nigger SAE
There will never be a nigger SAE
You can hang ’em from a tree
But they’ll never sign with me
There will never be a nigger SAE

(Not something I would do. I don’t get it. Aside from the bonding that results from the unfortunate physical, emotional, and possibly sexual abuse-lite so you can be neck deep in uninhibited, boozy college girls flocking to your rapey parties and then a life time of professional networking. Okay. That was cynical, I admit.)

When I was younger there were a few times when guys would have conversations around me — conversational keep-away. Like they would pass around the punchline of racist jokes, not realizing that I’ve heard those jokes. Sometimes the sight of a black man or woman would start them laughing.


I don’t expect anyone to confront racism/ignorance/sexism all the time. If that’s not your thing, that’s not your thing. I’m just saying, please don’t pretend it’s not a thing. If you’re surprised at all, recognize that the rest of us aren’t and that this is not an isolated incident. It just happens to have been caught on video. Don’t pretend that this is a one-off. Recognize that it’s poison and it has a real effect on real, actual people.

There is no excuse for this type of blatant racism or any -ism. Here’s another example from a different school.

UMD Frat Brother Allegedly Sent Racist Email, Signed Off With ‘F*** Consent’

Eh, don’t bother with clicking that. Here’s the text of that sweet, masterfully penned missive:

“Regardless of the rush shirt let’s get rachet as f*** during rush week. My d**k will be sucked and f***ed in compound basement whether you guys like it or not. Don’t invite any n****r gals or curry monsters or slanted eye chinks, unless they’re hot. Ziggy you’re [sic] girl can come she’s cool. Remember my n***as, erect, assert, and insert, and above all else, f*** consent … d**ks untouched.”

We can debate the consequences. We can debate free speech and expressions and subsequent repercussions. We can even debate the significance and to what degree the mindset impacts society, if at all. Threats of violence and death? Stop it. It slays me when people who are supposedly angry at someone for being hateful react by spewing even more hateful, violent, and vile garbage.

Protests outside the houses of the guys involved? Not sure what that’s going to accomplish. Expulsion and fraternity shuttering? Consequences. I’m pretty sure in a few months those guys will get a chance at redemption once the kerfuffle winds calm down. They should have a chance to redeem themselves. Being a racist asshat should not be a life sentence.

But don’t make excuses. Don’t deny that this is a part of who we are.

This is why it’s so important for people to interact with a diverse group of people. This is why it’s critical to be exposed to other cultures and groups. This is why colleges shouldn’t be homogeneous bastions of elitism. Otherwise, you live in a bubble and you sink to the lowest common denominator.

Also, I think your dogs are racist.


True. I don’t like semantic word play so I’ll never say that black people can’t be racist. That’s just bull crap unless you’re redefining the dictionary definition of the word “racist”.

Anyone can be ignorant. Anyone can misplace anger and frustration. Anyone can get a cheap laugh based on other people’s differences. Anyone can be full of hate.

But not everyone — on a collective level — has influence and power to affect the lives of neighborhoods, communities, towns, cities, states, and countries. It’s the collective power that is truly oppressive. The institutional racism.

You may have heard that black guy you know say all kinds of condescending, bigoted, and downright hostile racist things about white people but he and his friends won’t be gerrymandering your districts in order to increase the power of a political bloc and sway elections for generations.

They won’t buy up half of your neighborhood, forcing your family out due to increased taxes and cost of living, and build — I dunno — sports complexes. Meanwhile, the length of your work commute just tripled.

They won’t try to build a gas pipeline, coal burning power plant, or landfill near your kids’ middle school.

That’s why it’s important to shine a light on this business.

It’s important for America — not that America is the only country with issues, obviously — to say, “Okay. This is gross. This is unacceptable. This is not who we are anymore.”

You know what? Let me take that back. I don’t want to be abstract. It’s time for people to say, “Enough.”

Like the person who released the video. Not sure if the same person recorded it. But someone had the mind to say, “Nope. This is not okay.”

Racism, sexism, sexual orientation-ism, other -isms. Can we not?


Add Yours
  1. Sadie

    “(Not something I would do. I don’t get it. Aside from the bonding that results from the unfortunate physical, emotional, and possibly sexual abuse-lite so you can be neck deep in uninhibited, boozy college girls flocking to your rapey parties and then a life time of professional networking. Okay. That was cynical, I admit.)”

    Nope, not cynical. I laughed out loud. This is a fair characterization of the tendencies of feats, and why anyone aware of women’s issues stays the f*** away from Greek life.

  2. Eric M

    Thanks for this Gary! I really appreciate what you have to say about ummmm racism in America, amongst other things. Please keep writing. It is sane, heart felt, insightful. I just read the other one you put on FB a few days back, too. I’ve been thinking lately, you know, as a white kid from the suburbs, realizing towns are still basically segregated, how we miss out on knowing each other and there’s a loss there for everyone. It leads to all these problems because we don’t understand or aren’t even aware of our different experiences. Like if I didn’t know better I could easily think this country is all peas and carrots and react with disbelief when someone talks about the shit they step in all the time. Also, people listen to their friends and stick up for their friends, fight for their friends. So if you never had black friends…. if you never had gay or latino friends, etc. People being seperated like that I think it causes a lot of misunderstandings and other problems. Then of course there are the willfully ignorant and the hateful. That’s just a whole other level. Anyways, thanks for crossing that barrier all those years ago. I’ve realized as an adult it can be hard to do.

    • garyarthuryoung

      Thanks for reading, Eric. I appreciate you.

      When people know each other the walls come down. Simple as that.

      Once you develop empathy for the Other, things change. People change.

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