+
Heroes

Is the University of Texas alumni song racist? Student athletes speak out against 'Eyes of Texas.'

Is the University of Texas alumni song racist? Student athletes speak out against 'Eyes of Texas.'

Controversy has been brewing for months at the University of Texas at Austin as student-athletes petitioned the school to stop playing the school's alma mater song, "The Eyes of Texas."

The issue is that the origins of the song are allegedly steeped in racism. It was written in 1903 by two students who were inspired by speeches given by then-UT President William Prather, in which he used the phrase "The eyes of Texas are upon you." Prather himself had been inspired by General Robert E. Lee—leader of the Confederate army that fought for the right to own slaves—who used to say "the eyes of the South are upon you."

That's not all. The song is set to the tune "I've Been Workin' On the Railroad," which has its own questionable origins, and according to the Austin American-Statesman, "The song debuted at a Varsity minstrel show, a fundraiser for UT athletics, and was at some points performed by white singers in blackface." (Minstrel shows were a long, disturbing part of America's history of racism, in which white performers made themselves into caricatures of Black people and Black performers acted out cartoonish stereotypes in order to entertain audiences.)

This summer, in the midst of nationwide protests against racial injustice, students at the university launched a petition asking the school to confront its historic ties with the Confederacy in the names of buildings on campus and to formally acknowledge the racial roots of the alma mater song. A second student petition asked the school to replace the song with one that didn't have "racist undertones" in an attempt "to make Texas more comfortable and inclusive for the black athletes and the black community that has so fervently supported this program."


The school responded with a pledge to "own, acknowledge and teach about all aspects of the origins of 'The Eyes of Texas' as we continue to sing it moving forward with a redefined vision that unites our community."

The song stayed, but students protested by simply not participating in the singing of it. Some members of the school band said they didn't feel comfortable playing it, and most of the Texas Longhorns football team left the field when the song was being sung.

Some alumni and donors did not like that and made their feelings known in hundreds of emails, some of which were blatantly racist and some of which were blatantly childish.

"My wife and I have given an endowment in excess of $1 million to athletics. This could very easily be rescinded if things don't drastically change around here," wrote one donor. "Has everyone become oblivious of who supports athletics??"

It seems that this donor has become oblivious of who actually performs the athletics that they support and enjoy. Is forcing Black athletes to participate in something they feel is demeaning to them any better than asking Black performers to dance in minstrel shows in order to earn your money?

"The Eyes of Texas is non-negotiable," wrote a long-time season ticket holder and graduate. "If it is not kept and fully embraced, I will not be donating any additional money to athletics or the university or attending any events."

To be clear, the school has kept the song. They're threatening to withhold donations not because the song wasn't kept, but because Black athletes aren't fully embracing it. They might as well say, "You will not only dance for me, but you will show me you enjoy it!" Gross.

"It's time for you to put the foot down and make it perfectly clear that the heritage of Texas will not be lost," wrote a donor who graduated in 1986. "It is sad that it is offending the blacks. As I said before the blacks are free and it's time for them to move on to another state where everything is in their favor."

So yeah, using the phrase "the blacks" is a pretty obvious tell, but saying Black people should move to another state if they don't like the racism in Texas is really something.

Caden Sterns was a team captain and safety for the Longhorns football team who left at the end of the season to enter the NFL draft. He posted yesterday on Twitter that he and his teammates were threatened by some alumni that they would "have to find jobs outside of Texas" if they didn't participate in the singing of the song. Wow.

Black athletes—especially football players in football-loving Texas—are the backbone of the athletics program these alumni and donors cling to. And these people are willing to defund the athletics program over a song? Threaten the futures of these students over a song? Take down the entire institution over a song? Who exactly are the ones reallybeing overly sensitive here?

On the one hand, we have the actual harm of hundreds of years of racial oppression being called to mind by a song with unquestionably racist undertones, which students (who are literally the purpose of a university) are asking to be changed. On the other hand, we have the hurt feelings—or rather, mild discomfort—of people who haven't been students for decades who want to be able to sing a song because they've always sung it. These alumni and donors have made it clear that their priority is tradition over all things, including the very real issue of racism and the wishes of the Black athletes they rely on for the carrying forward their favorite sport.

If UT Austin decided to change the alma mater song, do you know what would happen? Nothing. No one would be harmed. After years of controversy, the Washington Redskins finally changed their name, and what happened? Nothing. No one was harmed. It turns out people get over these things pretty quickly.

Getting over a song or team name or building name being changed is a million times easier than getting over racism that has persisted for hundreds of years and continues to this day. Traditions can be fun and unite people, but if it's not fun for everyone and is actually causing a divide, then it's time for that tradition to be replaced with a new one. This really shouldn't be that hard to understand.

Good for the students for standing their ground.

Pop Culture

One moment in history shot Tracy Chapman to music stardom. Watch it now.

She captivated millions with nothing but her guitar and an iconic voice.

Imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Fast Car" for the first time

While a catchy hook might make a song go viral, very few songs create such a unifying impact that they achieve timeless resonance. Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs.

So much courage and raw honesty is packed into the lyrics, only to be elevated by Chapman’s signature androgynous and soulful voice. Imagine being in the crowd and seeing her as a relatively unknown talent and hearing that song for the first time. Would you instantly recognize that you were witnessing a pivotal moment in musical history?

For concert goers at Wembley Stadium in the late 80s, this was the scenario.

Keep ReadingShow less
www.youtube.com

Man hailed 'Highway Hero' for running across four lanes of traffic

Holy cow, Bat Man! You're always supposed to be aware of other vehicles when you're driving but what do you do when you notice someone has lost consciousness while speeding down the highway?

It's a scenario that no one wants to see play out, but for Adolfo Molina, the scenario became reality and he didn't hesitate to spring into action. Molina was driving down the highway when he spotted a woman in a blue car who lost consciousness as her car careened down the shoulder of the highway. The concerned driver quickly pulled over in order to attempt to rescue the woman.

But there was a problem, he had to cross four lanes of traffic on the highway just to make it to the woman's still moving car. That obstacle didn't stop him. Molina sprinted across the highway, crossing right in front of a black pick up truck before running at full speed to attempt to open the woman's door and stop her car.

Keep ReadingShow less

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less
Internet

Relationship expert tells people to never get married unless you're willing to do 3 things

"If you and your partner (both) are unable or unwilling to do these 3 things consistently forever, you won’t make it."

Relationship expert gives people advice on getting married.

Being in a relationship can be difficult at times. Learning someone else's quirks, boundaries, and deep views on the world can be eye-opening and hard. But usually, the happy chemicals released in our brain when we love someone can cause us to overlook things in order to keep the peace.

Jayson Gaddis, a relationship expert, took to Twitter to rip off people's rose-colored glasses and tell them to forego marriage. Honestly, with the divorce rate in this country being as high as it is, he probably could've stopped his tweet right there. Don't get married, the end. Many people would've probably related and not questioned the bold statement, but thankfully he followed up with three things you must be willing to do before going to the chapel.

Before going into his reasons for why he tells people not to get married, Gaddis explained that he is a person that "LOVEs being married." I mean, it would probably make him a pretty weird relationship expert if he hated relationships, so it's probably a good thing he enjoys being married. Surely his spouse appreciates his stance as well.

Keep ReadingShow less

Humanitarian Helen Keller circa 1920.

In a 1954 documentary short, humanitarian Helen Keller expressed that her greatest regret in life was being unable to speak clearly. But given that she could not see or hear, her speech was quite remarkable.

Keller was born in 1880 and, at the age of 18 months, contracted an unknown illness that left her deaf and blind. But with the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, she was able to overcome her disabilities and become an outspoken advocate for the voiceless and oppressed.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

10 years ago, a 'Stairway to Heaven' performance brought Led Zeppelin's surviving members to tears

Heart, John Bonham's son and a full choir came together for the epic tribute.

Led Zeppelin got to see their iconic hit performed for them.

When Billboard and Rolling Stone pull together their "Best Songs of All Time" lists, there are some tunes you know for sure will be included. Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" is most definitely one of them.

It has everything—the beauty of a ballad, the grunginess of a rock song, the simple solo voice, and the band in full force. "Stairway to Heaven" takes us on a musical journey, and even people who aren't necessarily giant Led Zeppelin or classic rock fans can't help but nod or sing along to it.

Of course, it's also been so ubiquitous (or overplayed, as some would claim) to become a meme among musicians. Signs saying "No Stairway to Heaven" in guitar stores point to how sick of the song many guitarists get, and when Oregon radio station KBOO told listeners they would never play the song again if someone pledged $10,000, Led Zepelin singer Robert Plant himself called in and gave the donation.

Keep ReadingShow less