By Michael Nam
A morning TV show’s white “experts” think rap music is to blame for the racist chants by a University of Oklahoma fraternity.
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski took issue with hip-hop artist Waka Flocka Flame’s telling CNN that the video of University of Oklahoma students performing a racist chant “disgusted” him. Brzezinski particularly took exception to the CNN interviewer (Brianna Keilar) for not bringing up the artist’s own rap lyrics during the piece.
“If you look at every single song, I guess you call these, that he’s written, it’s a bunch of garbage. It’s full of N-words, it’s full of F-words. It’s wrong. And he shouldn’t be disgusted with them, he should be disgusted with himself,” said Brzezinski.
Panelist Bill Kristol then felt compelled to add, “Popular culture becomes a cesspool, a lot of corporations profit off of it, and then people are surprised that some drunk 19-year-old kids repeat what they’ve been hearing.”
Not to be outdone, host Joe Scarborough chimed in: “The kids that are buying hip-hop or gangster rap, it’s a white audience, and they hear this over and over again. So do they hear this at home Well, chances are good, no, they heard a lot of this from guys like this who are now acting shocked.”
Not unlike Geraldo Rivera’s statement last monththat “hip-hop has done more damage to Black and brown people than racism in the last 10 years,” the MSNBC morning-show group follows a pattern of victim blaming African-American men for their own oppression. As Rahman Ali Bugg, a veteran of producing hip-hop programming, told DiversityInc in response to Rivera, “Hip-hop has only been around since the 1970s. Racism has been working its momentum for centuries, and has killed a lot of young Black men in the last 10 years regardless of whether or not they listen to hip-hop.”
While Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national organization denies that such a chant originated with it, blaming the local chapter instead, the chant seems more in line with its Confederate past than it does with modern rap music, as ThinkProgress pointed out:
The video that thrust SAE’s University of Oklahoma chapter into the national spotlight certainly has echoes of the old South. It consists of a segregationist refrain repeated over and over again”there will never be a ni**** in SAE”interspersed with an allusion to the campaign of terrorism white supremacists once used to maintain Jim Crow rule in the South: “You can hang ’em from a tree, but he’ll never sign with me.”
One of the students expelled for his part in the video, Parker Rice, released an apology, saying, “I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night. It was wrong and reckless. I made a horrible mistake by joining into the singing and encouraging others to do the same.” The parents of the other expelled student, Levi Pettit, apologized on his behalf, stating, “We were as shocked and saddened by this news as anyone. Of course, we are sad for our sonbut more importantly, we apologize to the community he has hurt.”