Everyone Thinks I’m a Racist (And Why That’s OK with Me)

Alabama-Racism

The Wise Guise is honored to have Josh Sigler (a loyal reader and friend) join us today with a guest post. Josh attends the University of Alabama and is writing about the big sorority segregation story that has broken into national news this week.

He writes, “Since the article was released, we have discussed it at length in every single one of my classes and in every class, the attitude has been the same: WE ARE FED UP.  I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say something like, “I don’t care what they call us, as long as some good comes of it all!” I know the rest of the nation probably won’t believe me, but this campus is ALIVE today. 50 years later and this new generation is ready to do whatever it takes to replace the old and build a new campus that seeks justice and embraces freedom and equality for all.”

Earlier this week, an incredible article was published by the Crimson White, the University of Alabama’s student run newspaper. It was entitled “50 Years Later, Segregation Still Exists” and I could NOT be more excited about it!

Now, if you only read the title of the article, then it may seem awful for me to be reacting to it positively. But the article tells the story of a couple of incredibly brave black women who went through rush for the traditionally white sororities on campus. As the article explains, these women were MORE than qualified based on traditional requirements such as grades, recommendations, background, and extra curricular activities. They were also hailed as having wonderful personalities by those who met them at rush parties or other events. Despite all this, both women were dropped from all sixteen of the sororities they were rushing.

And THAT’S where most people stopped reading it. The article was picked up by many other major news outlets including BuzzFeed, Jezebeel, Total Frat Move, and most notably, USA Today. If you read the response articles posted by these outlets, they almost universally come at it from the perspective of “Here’s Alabama, up to their old racist tricks as usual.”

The original article actually goes on to tell the story of how it all really happened. It explains that, in reality, it was almost universally NOT the current members of these sororities who made the decision to cut these women. In fact, many of them fought tooth and nail to try and see these women given equal opportunity to join their organization, some of them even leaving their sororities when the women were dropped. The article goes on to explain that it was almost always the alumni and advisors who donate thousands of dollars to these sororities who had the final say on making the cuts and that many current members did everything they could to oppose this.

But nobody wants to read that side of the story and you know what? I’m okay with that.

I get it. We’re Alabama. We are the butt of every comedian’s jokes about racist hicks. I understand the stereotype. I could use this platform to try and defend the University and explain how “not all of us are racist!” But I’m not going to. See the only reason this article got published in the first place was because of the women in these sororities who were willing to share their stories of how the events transpired. I GUARANTEE you that every one of them knew what they were getting into. They all knew that if this story was ever going to get any recognition and national attention, then it would only come in the form of people calling them and the University they attend racists.

But they did the story anyway.

They were willing to have their own names dragged through the mud for the sake of what’s right. This year is the 50th anniversary of both Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech as well as the integration of the University of Alabama. It would have been the perfect year for a black woman to receive a bid, but it didn’t happen. I wish it didn’t have to come to this. I wish it could have happened a different way but you know what? I’m okay with it happening the way it did. If  I have to look like a racist jerk for going to school here to see a bigoted generation finally lose the power it has had, then I’m prepared to take it.

And I am not alone.

Since the article was released, we have discussed it at length in every single one of my classes and in every class the attitude has been the same: WE ARE FED UP.  I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say something to the affect of “I don’t care what they call us, as long as some good comes of it all!” I know the rest of the nation probably won’t believe me but this campus is ALIVE today. 50 years later and this new generation is ready to do whatever it takes to replace the old and build a new campus that seeks justice and embraces freedom and equality for all.

So if it takes the whole country calling us racists, then so be it. Bring it on. Just as long it brings change.

Josh Sigler. 21. Senior at University of Alabama Majoring in Communication Studies and German. I am the president of International Justice Mission‘s campus chapter at Bama as well as their National Student Leadership team. I’m a native Memphian and plan to move back after I graduate. It’ll be nice to be back in a town that cares about basketball. I don’t read a lot of blogs faithfully other than the Wise Guise. I have my own blog at joshsigler.wordpress.com Follower and lover of Jesus above all else!

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Posted on by Josh Sigler in Assorted Wisdom, Featured, Guest Spots, Misc. Posts

21 Responses to Everyone Thinks I’m a Racist (And Why That’s OK with Me)

  1. Kyle Rigsby

    Way to be Josh, ROll Tide

  2. Steve Schalleberger

    A good friend has a daughter who is fighting for justice in the Greek system at UA. All power to these fine young women I’m calling the founding sisters of the new south.

  3. elizabeth

    Josh:

    Profoundly impressed. Thank you thank you thank you – to you and your fellow students at the University of Alabama.

    I’m an Ohio State grad, but in this case I’ll yell, “ROLL TIDE!”.

    Much love,

    elizabeth.

  4. Michael

    Josh,

    Thank you for having the courage to take this approach to a stereotype that has been put on us for far too long. I never realized exactly how bad it was until moving to Pennsylvania and hearing people’s reaction when I told them where I was from. They quickly, of course, realized that I wasn’t like that and started to shed this vision of the south that they’d long held on to, especially when I pointed out that judging me because I’m from the south is no different from judging someone based on the color of their skin.

    I hope THIS article also gets passed around, I know I’ll be sharing it with everyone I know. Thank you, again, for this wonderful post.

    Michael

  5. Lynda

    I do hope that the original article makes an impact on the alumni holding the purse strings and the advisors on campus because racism in any form is despicable. If this piece is accurate in its depiction of the more-inclusive attitudes of the student body, there is a ray of hope.

    On another note: Josh, as a communications major you should know the importance of proofreading and editing. You’ve made some pretty egregious and basic errors in this piece. Since I’m sure the last thing you’d want is to have your work reflect poorly on your school, you might want to take another look at it.

  6. Randall Savage

    Snap into a Slim Jim! Ohhhhh Yeeeaahhhhh!!!!!

  7. Lauren

    As a 2011 graduate of UA, I am so proud to see the changes being made at my alma mater.I hope that this will spark many positive changes at UA.

  8. Alecia714

    You need to get your facts straight it is IMPOSSIBLE for these women to have stayed in formal recruitment for as long as they did and be dropped by EVERY house. It is a mutual selection process and these women wanted to go to an OLD house, rather than some of the sororities that would accept them. Not all the houses oust people for being black and getting treated like they do IS JUST AS BAD as these women being denied from other houses for their race!

    • M

      Trust me at Alabama it is not impossible at all.

    • Guest

      Alecia714 – with all due respect you need to get your facts straight. My daughter is in one of these sororities and it most certainly is not impossible. Trust me too..these qualified young women were cut FROM all the sororities not just the four..they were the only 4 brave enough to come forward.

  9. A

    You are supported! Roll Tide
    1993 Pi Phi

  10. Casey

    I see this as just another story to motivate racism. I myself have no problem with any color, shape, or form as long as they provide society with a positive influence. I am white and I admit there is white trash out there, just like there is black trash, Chinese and Mexican trash out there. In today’s society segregation is more forced than ever before. With diversification lawsuits at the work place, lower standards for colleges for people of color etc, I see it as people want to be treated equally, but there are actual laws out there allowing people of color to be given a step up. If we want to be harmonious as one, we have to shed all hatred and make a country that makes EVERYONE on the same playing field, not allowing special rules for people of color or gender, no special selection just because someone is white.

  11. Pingback: Intercultural Resources | University of Alabama – For 50 years an Evolving Case Study in Racial Discrimination

  12. Claire Bush

    I get your point and I love the altruism articulated in this piece and in the motives of the young women who made the story public. But please please the facts are important too for the moral of like-minded people who need to know that there are generational differences that may be signalling hope for the future. I hope that you guys get the rest of the story out there. The beautiful part of the story is for courage and the ugly part for rage and determination.

  13. GM

    The Greek system operates as a private “club” for the beautiful and the fiscally endowed. As they takes no public money they are free to admit whoever they like and the people who financially support it have the right to call the shots on membership.

  14. Anonymous

    I appreciate this article for telling it how it is. The concern I have with all of this is what about the fraternities that have tried or are currently trying to integrate? I know Sigma Pi tried it for a few years and Delta Sigma Phi is currently trying it, all they got/get (respectively) is hell from the entire Greek system even going so far as being called N**ma Pi and Delta N**. There is another side to this that isn’t being told.

  15. George

    You just made me feel very proud to be a UA graduate. Thanks for the article!

    As for the fraternities, if it’s happening for the sororities, it will happen for them as well. It’s all the greek system.

  16. Ann

    Are there black sororities and fraternities on campus? If so, do they allow white members?? Just wondering. In my experience I have seen more reverse racism than the other way around.

    • Daniel

      There are and they can be a little more welcoming than the traditionally white organizations. But not by much at all !

      And as a white guy I think the concept of reverse racism is a joke. Blacks whites hispanics and asians can all be racist but black on white racism will never carry the same weight and hurt that white racism does. In my experience blacks can be racist and maybe even call you cracker, but cracker is not the same as nigger. Doesn’t have the history and years of oppression and slavery and lynchings behind it.

      So while blacks might say they don’t want a white girl/boy in their Greek org, their reasoning is not the same. The level of cruelty and hate is out of this world and white greeks who oppose integration view blacks as inferior. Believing that letting a black person in lowers their quality. Basically saying blacks are low quality beings.

    • Fran

      Daniel,
      Refusing a white person admission to a traditionally black Greek org. because outsiders might think you enjoy being with over-privileged supremacists = Refusing a black person admission to a traditionally white Greek org. because outsiders might think you enjoy being with uncultured less-than-humans.
      Whites aren’t considered “lower quality” in the historical slave-related sense, but in today’s context, “racist” is about as low as it gets. And whites are stereotyped that way. So when blacks don’t want a white person in their sorority/frat, is reasoning is EXACTLY the same: “They’re the worst kind of people. They’re racist.” Its the same idea: whites are low quality beings. Whites=racists=low quality beings.

      Assuming I’m racist is just as racist as you think I am.

  17. David

    No Fran…Southern Whites=Racists=Low Lives. Most other whites are ok.

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