Oklahoma got a knock on the 'will you vote for a black man?' storyline this week, but it's worth noting how the US is way ahead of the supposedly more progressive places in Western Europe. The New York Times -- doggedly chasing the race issue -- followed up the story with a revealing knock on the south as a whole yesterday, then added a more fascinating comparison with Europe today.
I'm reminded of my days in a fraternity in college -- a not-altogether worthless experiment, I should add (impromptu football games any day of the week are hard to knock) -- and of one of the more embarrassing moments that sticks out from the experience: rush.
In my first year as a 'brother,' I sat out most of the goings-on of the next year's ugly 'rush' process, where incoming Freshman were judged by shoes, haircuts and sporting successes -- or likelihood of scoring at various functions. It was ugly, and I knew it.
Everyone admitted, though, that rush there was one incoming 18-year-old who clearly stood out above all the others. The sharpest, most engaging of the several hundred pouring through the doors -- no one doubted the fact. But our rush-team crew refused to even ask him back for the second phase of rush. He was black. Not sure whatever happened with him -- but our house sure could have used him.
You'd think when you're faced with such situations, you'd rise -- like Al Pacino's spout offs in the blind-guy movie against Ivy League hypocrits. I didn't. Perhaps because I was still a bit unsure of myself, having just joined a house of intimidating older guys who had hazed us all the previous year. But I did say things to friends in-house at the time. Too bad I didn't stand up and say more.
Here's for change.
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