Three weeks ago, Levi Pettit was caught on film leading a racist chant while on a bus with fellow brothers from the University of Oklahoma chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
Pettit and the students casually sang a song with lyrics about how there will never be a black member of SAE, according to CNN. Another line references hanging black people from trees. The video is particularly disturbing because of the proficiency at which the words came out. It can be assumed this chant had been rehearsed several times before and nobody seemed to question it.
SAE has been in damage control since, with #NotAllSae even trending on Twitter; a hashtag just as pointless and illogical as #NotAllCops. Pettit, has since publically apologized to the Oklahoma Black Caucus. According to NBC, Pettit wants to dedicate the rest of his life to fighting racism. He went through the usual public apology motions admitting he was wrong and he’s going to be a better person in the future. He failed, however, to offer any sort of explanation as to why he led the chant. Pettit said he knew the chant was “wrong” but he didn’t know “how wrong.”
I don’t care if you grew up in the South, it should be common knowledge by now that singing about hanging other people is not acceptable. Pettit effectively dodged acknowledging where the chant originated or where he first heard it. When asked, he said, “I’m not here to talk about where I learned the chant or where it came from.” Sorry to burden you so much, Pettit. In order for an apology to have any sort of effectiveness, the person apologizing has to be completely honest and open. You don’t get to tiptoe around certain questions.
Last week, CNN stated the chant is not exclusive to the Oklahoma chapter of SAE. Of course, right after the incident, SAE came out and said the national fraternity does not teach this chant. However, according to a recent statement by the SAE national office, the chant most likely originated at a national conference “about four years ago.” If the chant was originated and sang at a national conference where SAE members from several states were present, I have a hard time believing this is a problem exclusive to the Oklahoma chapter.
I’m not buying your bogus apology, Mr. Pettit. No one should.