Earlier this month, a video surfaced showing members of the University of Oklahoma chapter of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, or SAE, chanting racial epithets. The video quickly prompted protests, followed by apologies and expulsions. Despite the University cracking down on the fraternity and the students involved, the conversation sparked by the incident has continued across traditional media and social media alike. Among the questions being asked: is this an isolated incident, or is it indicative of a larger trend?
In a 2010 report, the Pew Research Center found that Americans ages 18-29 are more racially and ethnically diverse, and more tolerant and open-minded than previous generations. In spite of this, many were not shocked by the SAE video.
“I wasn’t surprised, as this is pretty much in line with the culture of racism,” said Twitter user Alvian, who started the hashtag #RapAlbumsThatCausedSlavery in response to the incident, and spoke to the NewsHour on the condition that he be identified by first name only. “This isn’t an anomaly, it’s a tradition.”
What, if anything, can the nation learn from the recent incident at the University of Oklahoma? Are today’s young adults really more tolerant than their parents and grandparents? We addressed these questions and more in a Twitter chat. Kirsten West Savali (@KWestSavali), a senior writer for The Root, Sean McElwee (@SeanMcElwee), an essayist and researcher at demos.org, Kat Chow (@katchow) of NPR’s Code Switch, and BET News host Dr. Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) shared their insights. Read a transcript of the conversation below.