In the first part of this two part series I addressed the structure and origins of Black “Greek” letter organizations that is based on reality and not some fictitious story of how they are on a mystical quest to recover what was stolen from our ancestors. Now I am transitioning from the past to the present and addressing other aspects of the myth surrounding Black “Greek” letter sororities and fraternities.
Now to be frank the most I initially knew about those organizations was attained through movies and television shows. And they would high light, the pledging, the drama and the (step) shows they would put on. Growing up I honestly thought these organizations was just clubs that Black folks joined to drink, dance, have sex and get into the drama that generally occurs when groups of Blacks get together (sadly).
It wasn’t until I got older in middle and high school and I was introduced to junior fraternities and sororities such as the GENTS Organization and the Mademoiselles. The thing about these organizations was when they came to my middle school and high school they was very selective and other than watching folks do these idiotic things to pledge and later the step-show performances they would put on there wasn’t too much of anything to it. I did not see any remarkable change in the members academically or their worldview being modified it was the same old thing as usual. After high school I heard of these organizations presence and its members that I would occasionally run into would boast about their groups and I would hear talk of brotherhood, sisterhood and solidarity also how they are working for the communities advancement besides how there were the next generation of leaders and developing others to follow them.
Nevertheless I would never see all this stuff because of their absence in my neighborhood or in any of the other neighborhoods I frequented doing anything unless it was within a certain block radius of the college or university they were situated in. Now I will admit that those are my limited involvements with these type of societies but I can point to two real instances of these groups being more propaganda and talk than anything else.
The first being the lack of camaraderie with the Ferguson protests. The story was that members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., found out that “they’ve been forbidden by their respective organizations from wearing their Greek-letter paraphernalia while participating in protests that have been sparked around the country to voice anger and frustration at nonindictment decisions for former Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson and New York City police Officer Daniel Pantaleo.”
Now the members of the so-called “Divine Nine” has been styled as the “standing as vanguards of social justice, community service, black excellence and achievement.” Yet when an effort is made towards social justice these groups take a stand that implies that the actions of the protesters would somehow reflect badly on them. Now the query is how would Black people demanding justice towards their own make institutions that was supposed to sponsor social change look bad if their priority is being Black first and their audience is Black? The only way the activities in Ferguson would be an embarrassment or stain on them is if their focus and concern was towards White people instead of Black. Alpha Kappa Alpha did later revise their position via pressure internally and externally.
(Personally I do not care for the “Annoyance” method of empowerment but members of those sororities seemed to prefer it and their organizations should have been supportive)
The next instance revolves around the television series titled “Sorority Sisters”. It was a show that followed the lives of nine women who was members of various Black “Greek” letter organizations. It was a reality show that essentially followed the same modus operandi as any other reality TV program with a majority Black female cast. In any other instance a show of this nature would do well particularly in the eyes of Black female viewers. Yet after its premiere there was an onslaught of negative reactions to the show primarily by the casts’ fellow sorority members. After an intense battle between the television network and the fuming sorority members it ended with the show being cancelled and five of the members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority being expelled from their organizations.
Now on the internet and in reality I witnessed that the majority of the ones that had a complaint concerning the show including the sorority members would watch and celebrate other reality shows that would display Black females in the same light and present similar distasteful behavior as Sorority Sisters. Supposedly the difference being between the shows was that the women on Sorority Sisters represented Black “Greek” organizations and not themselves. So from this reasoning then the Black female is only important if they are attached to one of these Black “Greek” letter institutions. This sounds pretentious and elitist.
These societies are supposed to be comprised of intelligent Black women but intelligent Black women would be concerned with the image of ALL Black women not just a small number who think they are unique. Vanguards of social change do not behave in this fashion. They do not speak of sisterhood but then instead of helping someone and educating them they expel them from their presence. Expulsion without warning is not the actions of a sister.
Their male counterparts in the Black fraternities are no better and in some occurrences worse. As of late they have been barraged with lawsuits within the millions of dollars for hazing. It has become apparent that they have problems related to the exertion of power towards others that that is very reminiscent of the physical abuse once inflicted on Black males in general by White Supremacists. These actions have ended in a number of arrests plus the aforementioned lawsuits. One would think that the idea would be to teach Black men to repel abuse and to protect others from it not inflict it towards their own in these prestigious institutions.
In the end the Black Greek letter societies emphasize many of the things currently problematic in the Black collective. Foremost being the practice of erecting these gradations of Blackness among ourselves in order to believe that this particular group are somehow above others. Instead of finding means to distinguish ourselves we should be striving to build and create places of education and empowerment not dens of the Black bourgeoisie.