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When a Word Isn’t Just a Word

It’s still hard for me to believe in 2015 we have problems with racism in America. With the recent activity at the University of Oklahoma with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity among a plethora of other incidents, it reminds us all that racism is alive and thriving in certain areas.

The fraternity members were caught on camera chanting something you would have expected to hear in 1815, not 2015. The chant went something like this, “there will never be a n***** SAE / You can hang them from a tree / But they’ll never sign with me.”

I don’t think I need to explain anything more about what was said. I brought it up to bring my next story into context, as something similar happened right here on campus.

I was walking to my car after class a few days before spring break when I witnessed something that literally made my jaw drop and my skin crawl.

A boy on one of those Razor Scooters was crossing the street when the driver of a car who obviously hadn’t seen him went through a stop sign. The driver honked at the boy and then yelled the same obscenity as listed above, “F****** n*****.”

Since it happened on campus, I can only assume it was probably a student. I really hope not. I hope Bison students have more sense and class.

It is no secret NDSU and North Dakota in general are predominantly white. However, I always thought NDSU was a great place for diversity and tolerance when it came to other cultures and races.

I know this one student does not reflect the views of the majority of people around here. However, if you are reading this and are siding with the driver, shame on you. To the driver of that car, double shame on you.

Judging on the language you decided to use, I am guessing ignorance rules your life and you might not even be able to read this. However, I guess if not for your abhorrent actions, I wouldn’t have had the courage to write this.

I just want to let you know you are in the minority. The color of your skin doesn’t automatically mean you are in the majority, as your viewpoints are outdated and frankly disgusting.

For those who think it is just a word, that is a problem. Yes, it’s just a word, but it’s a word that doesn’t ever need to be said for any reason. Even if this was said out of anger, it doesn’t matter. This is the kind of behavior that perpetuates racism and further divides the country.

I don’t know the answer to solving racism. Teaching tolerance is not the same as teaching a math lesson. Racism is deeply rooted and hard to dig out.

When it comes to issues like this, does it really come down to personal choice and free speech? The fraternity is claiming it’s their right to free speech. I suppose it is their legal right, but morally, they owe themselves and the people around them something better.

I choose to live in a way that makes not only myself better, but everyone around me better. It’s a choice to make the world a better place with love, understanding and tolerance. I refuse to sit idly by and watch bigotry and ignorance take over. Things will never change if we don’t speak up. We as a human race need to teach each other love and tolerance.

The University of Oklahoma did the right thing. They severed ties with the fraternity and two of the students have been expelled. This is sending a clear message that while you have the freedom to say whatever you want under our Constitution, that does not relieve you from societal repercussions.

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