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Segregation In Modern Society Part II: The Divine Nine
“In so many ways, segregation shaped me, and education liberated me.”- Maya Angelou
Greek life has become such a huge part of college for a lot of people, including myself. Unfortunately, Greek life is one place where you will find very little racial diversity. Not because we are opposed to the diversity, but we aren’t presented with very many opportunities to expand our horizons. The college I attend is a Primarily White Institute, with seven of “The Divine Nine” historically black Greek organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council, or NPHC as it is most commonly referred as. This being said, not very many African Americans are busting down our doors for a bid.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council was founded in 1930 during an era when African Americans were highly discriminated against and suppressed. African Americans were not allowed to attend college with Caucasians, much less join a sorority or fraternity full of them. So in turn, the African American population not only founded their own Historically Black colleges, but also their own organizations.
I remember in my younger and more vulnerable years when I learned that sororities and fraternities were racially segregated. I was old enough to understand what sororities and fraternities were, but young enough to not fully understand their purpose. And I was completely shocked to find out that there were “black” and “white” organizations as my informant so eloquently put it. I honestly didn’t know if that was even legal. But as I came to understand, its no longer forced, its now an option to remain (partially) segregated. We choose our organization we want to be apart of for more than skin color. We choose it for legacy.
I was not born into being a legacy, but being a legacy is something to be honored of. Its carrying on something that someone you love, loved very much. But something the Black Greek Letter Organizations have that the other organizations don’t is pride to a degree that we can never imagine. They are so very proud, as they should be, of everything they and their ancestors have overcome and accomplished over history and that’s the legacy they are continuing.
Of course now any race can apply to join any organization. Just this semester, my organization’s chapter gave a bid and initiated our very first African American. We didn’t do it for bragging rights; we didn’t do it because we felt like we had to because of the color of her skin. We did it for the simple fact that everyone that met her during the week of recruitment fell in love with her. She encompasses everything our chapter stands for and she fits like a glove in our house.
This is a little piece of history that still remains in today’s world. But as long as we still have “black” and “white” things, race can never be eliminated completely. Domenick J. Maglio PhD wrote, “There is but one race, the human race”. This is true, but as long as we continue to label things with a certain race, we can never truly be colorblind.