I’ll tell you who I feel bad for this week, and no, it’s not those police officers that were shot in Ferguson. It’s those SAE fraternity boys that were unfortunately recorded on a cell phone while singing a racist song about their racist fraternity.
Now I don’t know much about fraternities. In fact, to me, SAE means something much different than it does to college folks. It stands for Society of Automotive Engineers, and you’d know that if you grew up in a blue collar house hold like I did. Every summer I’d be covered in oil and grease, out in the garage, working on my dad’s fucking hemi for allowance money. Getting my hands dirty and proving that girls aren’t “gay” at cars, regardless of what my brothers had to say about it. SAE to me doesn’t represent privilege and fraternal debauchery – it represents a very specific set of standards for oil weights. Standards that are to be respected if you want to keep an Iococca-era Mopar engine running through the harsh east coast winters.
My point is that I couldn’t be further removed from the world of fraternities and their inherently waspy, racist culture. But I am a human, and I understand human nature. And in this whole debacle, people are missing a very important point: they didn’t say the n-word. They sang it. Big difference.
Can we all just stop pretending like we don’t have racist songs that we sing when no one is looking? It’s human nature to express things through art, and sorry guys, but music is art. Racism is natural, and while it’s something that we should correct, if we suppress it in our regular behavior it has to come out through artistic endeavors. Think about all the idle swastikas you’ve doodled in your downtime. Think about how many times you’ve made up silly little parody songs in your head that use racial slurs.
There’s four Chinese people that work at the grocery store near my house, and whenever I see them, in my head I play a different little theme song for each one. And yeah, all of their songs are incredibly racist. One of them is just that song from the old Chips Ahoy commercials – the ones where the melody is Sing, Sing, Sing and the lyrics are all about Chips Ahoy cookies, but I’ve replaced “Chips” with a racial slur. Sometimes I’ll just hum the melody in their face. They don’t know the lyrics so they don’t know its offensive. They just think I like jazz. It feels good and it makes me laugh.
And when I see Muslims? Hell, if I’m not terrified and scanning the area for the nearest police officer, I’m playing a little tune in my head that I imagine would lure a snake out of a basket. Either that or one of the songs from Aladdin. It’s just how my mind works. It’s how everyone’s mind works. It’s just something that we all do, and frankly I’m more disgusted with our knee-jerk decision to condemn these young men instead of taking a look at ourselves first.
Before you lynch these kids for near-universal behavior, ask yourself this: do you want to live in a world where we can’t sing racist songs in private? Because if the answer to that question is yes, you might want to rethink living in America.