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Black Greeks And Their Questionable Relevance In The Present World

Updated on February 27, 2017

A part of something bigger

Joining college brings with it the premise of new beginnings, the fear of the unknown and the intricate need to find a place to belong. Back in the early 1900s this is the situation majority of black people found themselves in when attending big Ivy League universities. With the introduction of black colleges and universities, or as they prefer to be known HBCUs, black people found places that were all about them and where it was okay to love fried chicken.

It is with this background that black fraternities and sororities were formed. These organizations gave black people a platform for expression and a chance to have their voices aired and their needs met. The individual sororities and fraternities that gave rise to the Divine Nine as they are more commonly known, housed in them some of the greatest men in black and American history in general.

Greek life organisations
Greek life organisations

Black Greek Reach

With Martin Luther King Jnr leading the Washington march, it is rather clear that at the time, the sororities encouraged a great deal of brotherhood and confidence building in the members. The force driving a man who knows he has the backing of a great group of people with similar cause was definitely one not to be taken lightly.

Over the years the Greek letter organizations, have seen massive growth in number of members present. To state, there are at least 9 million alumni of the divide nine sororities and fraternities over the world.

Relevance Of Fraternities And Sororities In Modern Day World

There has been a growth in the amount of criticism that modern day sororities get from the media in the recent past. It is definitely goes without saying that in the past sororities played an integral part in boosting the black community in the world. The stands they have taken on major issues to do with politics and racism has cemented their role in the changing of the world history, albeit in their small way.

Dating back to about a decade ago, there has been a rise in the number of black people in power and holding public offices with influences. This is just with reference to President Barack Obama, who for his years in Harvard was not a member of any fraternity, despite their being many of them.

That notwithstanding, there have been a great many other leaders who have risen to power without the backing of any Greek letter organization.

This calls to question the actual relevance these organizations play in the modern world of today.

In a 2014 “justice for all” rally to protest a shooting of a 12 year girl in Cleveland, the two oldest sororities in America: Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta, issued directives to their members asking them to refrain from wearing the organization’s logos or letters during the protest. They could however wear the sorority’s colors.

This directives sparked a lot of anger in members who saw that as the sorority’s executives choosing to shrink from battle. When asked, most of the members would point out that they joined sororities as a way to speak out on instances of social injustice and in general to be the voice for a marginalized gender in an already marginalized race as a whole.

The sorority president’s orders can be viewed in many ways as controversial, why choose to be in a sorority then? What’s the point of participating in a march for a cause and choose to be under the covers?

What Really Happens When Individuals Join The Black Sororities And Fraternities?

Many people join fraternities and sororities because of filial affiliations or because they look up to someone who was in a sorority. Sororities, are in essence a lot of work, commitment and definitely time and financial draining.

Before you join a black Greek organization, most people fail to realize this is not just a campus phase, sororities and fraternities are a lifelong commitment. Sworn to community service, most of the sorority’s pride themselves in a list of charitable events they engage in actively.

This therefore, means that newer members will have to take up the first hand role of planning and participating in these events. Sororities are run on the financial contributions of the members, which means individuals have to pour plenty of their hard earned scholarship money into these cause

Joining a sorority involves being vetted rigorously by the older members. Your knowledge of the history of the divine nine, their songs, traditions and lastly YOUR GPA.

While joining a sorority or a frat may require you to have a good GPA, a recent analysis shows that majority of the members of black Greeks show a significant drop in their GPA over the years of school compared to their colleagues who don’t belong to fraternities.


The Ugly Side of Black Greeks

It is common knowledge from the media and written publications that sororities and fraternities fall among the top college organizations in partying and drug abuse. Partying is a wide-spread practice that we are well aware of, the number of young individuals who suffer from the effects of alcohol due to their affiliation with Greek life is a cause for concern.

The issue of hazing which has been discussed in low tones for while is a practice that we all know exists all too well. According to a 2007 study, around 68% of women in sororities went through some form of hazing or the other. In 2012, Brittney Starling, a then student at UC Berkeley, sued the Zeta Phi Beta sorority for a series of hazing activities which included mopping the floor with her back, being used as a trash can for the other student’s litter and even standing alongside other girls for hours through the night without use of the bathroom.

This is just one of the relatively nicer ordeals girls have had to go through in an attempt to pledge loyalty to these black Greek organizations.

The effects of all this harrowing lifestyle are manifested in missed classes because the girls and boys stay up all night attending parties or events for their groups. The students that actually make it to class are too tired to listen, probably fall asleep or fall behind on their course work.

Professors are torn between punishing students for activities actually permitted in the schools calendar and giving them a break to prioritize.

Black Greeks- Verdict

That sororities are built on a good cause is without doubt. Their essence especially in the post Obama world is what most people are questioning and rightfully so. The activities they choose to take part in, the lifestyles they sell and the claims of hazing are something that should definitely be looked into.

In my opinion, if a sorority or a fraternity stands in the way of achieving the purpose of actually attending a HBCU, then by all means the faculty should take it in their hands to abolish or revoke the student’s membership till their priorities are set right.

After all, your involvement in a black Greek organization is not noted on your job resume and we have a credible list of great black individuals that made it far in life without being members of any black fraternities or sororities.


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