Black community leaders joined former SAE fraternity member Levi Pettit during his recent publicized apology for singing a racist chant caught on video, MSNBC reports. He also vowed to dedicate his life to fighting racism.
“All the apologies in the world won’t change what I have done, so I will spend the rest of my life trying to be the person who heals and brings people of all races together,” Levi Pettit said, delivering a prepared statement at a press conference in Oklahoma City.
“The people I met with have opened my eyes to things I wasn’t exposed to before this event,” Pettit added, referring to his prior meeting with local Black civic leaders and pastors. “I think I knew they were wrong, but I never knew why or how they were wrong."
Pettit is one of the former University of Oklahoma SAE brothers caught chanting the song, which included the N-word and referenced lynching. After the video surfaced earlier this month, Sigma Alpha Epsilon closed its chapter at the school. Pettit and another student, Parker Rice, were also expelled.
According to MSNBC, Oklahoma State Sen. Anastasia A. Pittman, the chair of the Oklahoma Black Caucus, thanked the media in her introduction for “giving us this opportunity to introduce Levi Pettit to the world.”
During a brief question and answer session, Pettit avoided discussing the chant when specifically asked about its origins.
“I’m not here to talk about where I learned the chant or where it was taught. I’m here to apologize for what I did,” Pettit said.
Critics, however, quickly took to blogs and social media to express their disbelief of his apology.
“You don’t get to use Black people as a force field and expect me to believe that you’re sorry,” wrote Imani Gandy, a lawyer and author of the “Angry Black Lady” blog. “You want me to believe you’re sorry? Explain how you learned the song.”
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(Photo: Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo)