Common Ground: Confessing our racism at WKU

Nick Bratcher

This country has experienced more racism in the last week than I can recall in my last three years at WKU.

Last Thursday, the student newspaper at the University of Alabama reported that many of its sororities denied bids to black women during its fall recruitment, based solely on their race.

On Sunday, the United States crowned its first ever Indian-American Miss America.

But instead of celebrating this milestone, I sat horrified by my Twitter feed as it ran ablaze with users tweeting accusations of crowning a terrorist or gas station attendant.

But the most disturbing tweets I read— some of the ugliest utterances of nonsensical bigotry I’ve ever witnessed — came from all the users crying out that it was offensive to give her the crown so close to Sept. 11.

I wish I were kidding.

I came out of high school under the impression that we left racism in the 1960s.

It’s been a half-century since Martin Luther King, Jr. told us he had a dream.

But in Alabama, people are still picking their friend groups based on garbage that’s so mind-numbingly irrelevant that I can hardly stand to think about it.

Others across this nation are complaining that someone white didn’t win Miss America this year.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably horrified by all this continued racism and injustice.

When I sat down to write this column, I was with you — all too ready to rip into this group of people in our nation that obviously do not understand the concept of basic human rights, equality or freedom.

You’re probably glad you don’t know anyone like those people tweeting those nasty things or denying bids to a fraternity or sorority based on the color of someone’s skin.

But I think you do.

We all do.

How many of the Twitter accounts that we follow at WKU make racist jokes? Many of these parody and confession accounts are masked as a “satirical stew” but are often worse than anything tweeted during the Miss America pageant.

On Sept. 13, @WKUHouseMom tweeted “Apparently Sigma Nu has a black new boy? I can’t fry that much chicken in one night. #LordHelpMe.”

On June 12, one of WKU’s most popular fake Twitter accounts, @PimpRansdell, tweeted that black people like Popeyes and white people like Panda Express.

If a person you actually knew tweeted those things, would they still be funny? Yes, I realize that the played-out stereotypes aren’t even that funny now, but stick with me.

I must confess that I used to spend hours scrolling through my feed, laughing at “harmless” comments like this.

But what WKU parody and confession accounts really do is breed division among people by pointing out their differences and spreading false stereotypes — sometimes based on race and other times based on something just as meaningless, like whether you’re Greek or not.

They mean nothing without followers, but they mean everything as long as we listen to their lies.

We all need to take a hard look in the mirror and click the unfollow button, or else risk casting the first stone at ourselves.

The writers of these slurs are anonymous, but the people they’re talking about are not.

This is not a joke.

It’s real life, and we’re the reason they exist.