Though they get leaked time and time again, fraternities are apparently still sending dumb, racist emails to each other over their listservs. This week’s installment comes from the University of Chicago’s AEPi chapter, a traditionally Jewish frat. Buzzfeed has the emails, which are full of references to Muslim students as terrorists, Palestine jokes, and several invocations of the n-word.
On Martin Luther King Day
One brother sent the following email to the listserv in 2013, inviting AEPi brothers to participate in a “Marathon Luther King Day” celebration consisting of day drinking, eating fried chicken, and watching Black Dynamite.
It is with a great sense of somber pride that I am organizing this important and annual event to be held at the AEPi house. Reverend Marathon Luther King Jr. did more for our civil rights than any other leader during the civil rights era. Following the horrors of prohibition, the puritanical powers in control of the United States successfully stigmatized day drinking. This travesty flavored American life in many ways, leading to increases in domestic abuse, legitimate rape and worst of all oppression. MLK took a stand. He had a dream. He led a million man march on Washington in order to make his dream a reality.
In his honor I will be hosting a celebration at the house. We will begin day drinking at 9:00AM sharp. ...At 7:00PM, to a meal of Harold’s and your third 40 rack we will watch Black Dynamite. If you wish to participate, respond to me...
Let us honor this Great American.
The email convinced 10 brothers to attend the party, the brother who leaked the emails told Buzzfeed.
Two email chains from 2015 contain references to an “empty lot filled with gravel and weeds next to the fraternity’s apartment building” as “Palestine.”
Not to worry: One brother told Buzzfeed that at some point in 2015, the chapter passed an “official mandate” to stop calling it that. This brother admitted however, that AEPi has a reputation on campus for not being “the most positive” about Palestine. “It’s kind of like ‘no shit,’” he said.
On Muslim students
Perhaps unsurprisingly, AEPi bros don’t have many nice things to say about Muslim students in their emails. In one email from 2014, a brother refers to a Muslim woman on student government as a “terrorist.” In another, a brother jokes that “two long-held fixtures” of Islamic culture are C-4 explosives and dynamite.
On black people
According to the brother who provided the emails to Buzzfeed, brothers refer to black people as “community members” in emails. The brother said this is a “veiled slur.” One example from 2013:
Three young female community members loitering outside yelling. Weird.
The brothers use the n-word several times in emails, as well; at least one brother had a nickname that had slur in it. In an email from 2011, this brother asks the others to stop calling him the name over the listserv. One brother then responds with the classic “well if black people can say it” argument:
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the word nigger. By calling it the “n word” you are giving it power that it doesn’t deserve. it’s the context of the word that matters, not the word itself. Read Huckleberry Finn, the George Carlin routine on racist words, and every Richard Pryor routine ever, not to mention the entire Tupac discography. ...
Jonathan Pierce, the national fraternity spokesman for AEPi, told Buzzfeed that the emails are being investigated. “As a Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi is especially sensitive to hate speech and behavior towards any minorities,” he said. “Especially during these troubling times of increased anti-Semitism on college campuses, we are very aware of the harm that negative speech towards minority groups can do. We will investigate and, if necessary, work to educate the individual members about this issue.”
The brother who (anonymously) leaked the emails to Buzzfeed said he did so because he’s grown frustrated with AEPi’s “toxic culture.”
Another current AEPi brother told Buzzfeed that AEPi used to be way more racist. There is a “division between the old AEPi and the new AEPi” he said. Some brothers who graduated last year were racist, he admitted. “We called them out on it a lot and we would have kicked them out but didn’t want to stir up controversy,” he said.