Yesterday, the SAE brother held a press conference, flanked by local Black leaders, to ask forgiveness for his racist activities. This writer offers a searing annotation to his canned speech.
Levi Pettit, one of the ringleaders in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon circus chant, which went viral on March 9 via social media, has come before America to beg our forgiveness. Yesterday, the University of Oklahoma student read words of contrition for the cameras while flanked by Negroes sweet and docile, meek, humble and kind. They appeared to be members of the local Black leadership—or whatever Black people free and available at the time of this carefully planned photo op.
I applaud their restraint, because had it been me—oooh, chile. I would have been offering live commentary the entire time, channeling my Key and Peele inner Obama anger translator “Luther,” minus the president. There wouldn’t be a nanosecond where Pettit would wonder what I was thinking, because I would offer him this free service. Herewith, the transcript of the speech, with my interjections:
Pettit: “LET ME START BY SAYING THAT I’M SORRY. DEEPLY SORRY. I’M SO SORRY FOR ALL OF THE PAIN THAT I’VE CAUSED AND I WANT YOU ALL TO KNOW THAT DIRECTLY FROM ME. ALTHOUGH I DON’T DESERVE IT, I WANT TO ASK FOR YOUR FORGIVENESS.”
Forgiveness is earned boo, this is step one of many, so—wait, lemme not Kanye you—I’mma let you finish, go ’head.
Pettit: “THERE ARE NO EXCUSES FOR MY BEHAVIOR. I NEVER THOUGHT OF MYSELF AS A RACIST AND NEVER CONSIDERED IT A POSSIBILITY. BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS, THE WORDS SAID IN THAT CHANT WERE MEAN, HATEFUL AND RACIST.”
Mean? Calling somebody’s outfit ugly is mean. You couldn’t think of a better adjective? Aren’t you in college?
Pettit: “I WILL BE DEEPLY SORRY AND DEEPLY ASHAMED OF WHAT I’VE DONE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.”
As you should be, punk.
Pettit: “SOME HAVE WONDERED WHY I HAVEN’T SPOKEN OUT PUBLICLY. THE TRUTH IS THAT I’VE HAD A MIX OF PAIN, SHAME, SORROW, AND FEAR OVER THE CONSEQUENCES OF MY ACTIONS.”
Don’t get comfortable, you ain’t out of the woods YET.
Pettit: “I DID NOT WANT TO APOLOGIZE TO THE PRESS OR TO THE WHOLE COUNTRY FIRST UNTIL I CAME HERE TO APOLOGIZE TO THE COMMUNITY MOST DIRECTLY IMPACTED. SO I DECIDED THAT IT WOULD BE BEST TO WAIT UNTIL THE LEADERS WE GOT THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET WITH TODAY WERE BACK FROM SPRING BREAK.”
Or until your parents cleared it with your lawyers and you got a press agent. Stop playing.
Pettit: “I THINK THAT THE BEST WAY TO EXPRESS THE TRUTH ABOUT WHO I AM AND WHAT I FEEL IS TO READ YOU ALL A LETTER I WROTE TO PRESIDENT BOREN A FEW DAYS AFTER THE BUS RIDE.”
Wait. We’re getting a RECYCLED apology? You mean to tell me you’re not regretful enough—or creative enough—to give the Black folk that cleared their schedules to stand up here behind your sorry ass an apology specific to them?
Pettit: “DEAR PRESIDENT BOREN, I WOULD LIKE TO EXPRESS MY DEEPEST SORROW AND REGRET FOR MY BEHAVIOR LAST WEEKEND ON THE BUS. I’M SO SORRY FOR WHAT I HAVE DONE, WHO I’VE HURT AND THE REPERCUSSIONS THAT I HAVE BROUGHT TO THE UNIVERSITY THAT I LOVE. I AM INCREDIBLY ASHAMED OF MYSELF AND WOULD BEG YOUR FORGIVENESS, AS WELL AS THE FORGIVENESS OF EVERYONE I’VE HURT WITH THE WORDS THAT HAVE COME FROM MY MOUTH …”
This is really happening. He is really re-reading us a letter he wrote to his White college president about being sorry. Homeboy didn’t even change the tense of it. Bruh. BRUH!
Pettit: “IT MAY TAKE ME A LIFETIME TO EARN IT, LET ALONE DESERVE IT, BUT I’M COMMITTED TO TRYING. I WOULD DO ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING TO TAKE IT BACK IF I COULD.”
Take it back off the internet, you mean.
Pettit: “TO HEAR THE WORDS THAT I’M A RACIST OR BIGOT MAY SEEM LOGICAL AFTER SEEING MY FACE AND HEARING ME PARTICIPATE IN A MINDLESSLY SICKENING CHANT. HOWEVER, WHAT YOU AND OTHERS SAW ON THAT VIDEO IS NOT WHO I REALLY AM, NOT WHO I WAS RAISED TO BE, AND NOT WHO I THINK OF MYSELF TO BE.”
Hold the hell up. People have been found guilty of major crimes on less evidence. And “may seem logical”? Do you know the definition of “racist,” “bigot,” or“logical”?
Pettit: “ALL OF THE GOOD THAT I’VE DONE IN MY LIFE BY HELPING BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER HAS BEEN ERASED BY A SIX-SECOND VIDEO, AND I WILL CARRY THIS BURDEN FOREVER.”
Having people over to watch the game does not count toward your “bringing people together” merit badge. And if ALL the good you’ve done has been erased by this video, your good must not have been that good, boo-boo.
Pettit: “IT WAS A TRAGIC FAILURE WITH FAR-REACHING CONSEQUENCES, AND I’M EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED IN THE WEAKNESS I DEMONSTRATED BY ENGAGING IN ACTIVITIES THAT WERE SO HURTFUL TO OTHERS.”
Ah! We’re getting to the real reason you’re up here now. The CONSEQUENCES. For had there been none, you wouldn’t give a damn about apologizing. Tell the truth, shame the devil.
Pettit: “I SEE HOW MY CHOICES AFFECTING THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN IMPACTED BY MY THOUGHTLESS DECISION TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS CHANT. THERE ARE MANY THINGS THAT I WILL NEED TO DO OVER TIME TO REGAIN THE TRUST OF MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND THE PUBLIC AT LARGE. I’M THOROUGHLY DEVASTATED THAT MY ACTIONS HAVE RESULTED IN THE LOSS OF MY BELOVED COLLEGE COMMUNITY. AND I WILL FEEL THE PAIN OF IT FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I UNDERSTAND COMPLETELY WHY I HAVE LOST THIS PRIVILEGE, HOWEVER, I DO WANT VERY MUCH TO FIND SOME POSITIVE OUTCOME FROM THIS AWFUL SITUATION, AND TO MOVE FORWARD WITH MY LIFE AND ATTEMPT TO MAKE IT RIGHT AND MAKE AMENDS TO THE DEGREE THAT I AM ABLE. IF THERE IS ANYTHING AT ALL I CAN SALVAGE FROM MY MISTAKE, I WOULD HOPE IT CAN INCLUDE ARMING MYSELF WITH THE TOOLS TO MOVE FORWARD WITH MY LIFE AND MAYBE EVEN SOMEHOW HELP PREVENT THIS SORT OF THING FROM HAPPENING ELSEWHERE. WITH DEEP APOLOGIES, LEVI PETTIT. THE WORDS IN THAT LETTER ARE ALL HEARTFELT WORDS, AND I THANK PRESIDENT BORIN FROM ACCEPTING MY APOLOGY.
[Rushes the podium, snatches mic.] Nope. NEAUXP. Leslie ghatdamb KNOPE to this. What I’m NOT finna do is stand up here and listen to this half-hearted, dry-as-his-mama’s-chicken, middle-school reading-level communiqué on the remorse he feels for getting in trouble—because that’s what this is. It contains NOTHING about what he has learned about racism—systemic, systematic, or otherwise. It has nothing about how he realizes the part he and his frat brothers play in continuing the vicious cycle. He has not expressed anything about realizing how dehumanizing his words were, how sick and twisted—let alone criminal—it is to sing about hanging someone from a tree. For extra measure, he still wrapped it up with “I want to move past this and get on with my life.” Something he surely doesn’t realize Black people can’t do, because being subjected to the effects of this kind of thought process IS our life. EVERYDAY. Until he reads Pedagogy of the Oppressed, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, The New Jim Crow, and the entire Michael Eric Dyson Reader, then writes a 40-page, single-spaced paper on how he intends to apply lessons from them into his everyday life—or hell, until he writes us our OWN apology, I’m not nor never will be here for this.
[Steps on Pettit’s feet while walking out.]
Levi Pettit gave these people sad puppy dog eyes and a form-letter apology, and several black Oklahoma City community leaders, including State Senator Anastasia Pittman, are standing at the ready to hold him to their collective colored bosoms and tell him “all is well.” This is frustrating to no end. Neither he nor they are seriously committed to helping end the problem of racism, because when a reporter confronted him with the question of how he came to know the song in the first place, his response was:
“I’M NOT HERE TO TALK ABOUT WHERE I LEARNED THE CHANT OR HOW IT WAS TAUGHT.”
Guess the lawyer and the PR agent didn’t clear that as an acceptable talking point.
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