One of the University of Oklahoma SAE members in the video of fraternity members singing racist chants is taking a big step toward making amends. One of the students, Levi Pettit, will make a public apology on Wednesday at Fairview Baptist Church in Oklahoma City at an event hosted by Oklahoma Sen. Anastasia Pittman. So far, one other student in the video, Parker Rice, has released an apology via video. While Pettit’s parents have released an apology, this will be his first time to speak about the incident.
The now infamous video shows Pettit and Rice aboard a bus to an SAE fraternity date party singing racist chants. Both students have since been expelled from the University of Oklahoma. Pettit will take responsibility for his actions Wednesday at the church event where he will first spend an hour talking to pastors, politicians, and leaders in the African-American community before delivering his public statements.
Pittman says that Pettit and his family “had some reservations about coming to an African-American community” for his first public apology, but then realized, as Pittman put it, “if you’re going to seek forgiveness, you should do it at a black church.” Moreover, Pittman highlighted that this will not be Pettit’s only apology and appearance. The senator and Pettit have discussed how he can play a role in fixing Oklahoma’s larger race issues.
We discussed the longevity of this. We are not only looking at what he can contribute after an apology, but how he can spend the rest of his life being an advocate of something Oklahoma has failed to fix. Oklahoma has some healing to do, and this is a great place to start.
In both Pettit’s parents’ apology and the apology of Rice, feelings of remorse were clear. While Pettit's parents vouched for their son’s character, they also admitted, “He made a horrible mistake, and will live with the consequences forever.” Rice similarly acknowledged the permanency of the situation, saying:
My goal for the long-term is to be a man who has the heart and the courage to reject racism wherever I see or experience it in the future.
While the video and its scarring effects are more than regrettable, Pettit and Rice’s steps toward accepting responsibility for their action and toward making amends with the black community offer a glimmer of hope that maybe some good can result from such a bad situation. Although the hurtful racism displayed in that now infamous video cannot be rescinded, that regret can contribute toward progress.