January 9, 2015

Opinion: Fraternities, Sororities, and Greek Organizations


On Twitter tonight (I started this a couple days prior to posting it), I noticed many people on my timeline tweeting about VH1's newest and most controversial reality show, Sorority Sisters. I am not a fan of 99% of the reality shows out there, so the fact that I'm not into this one is a given. Some sorority/fraternity members are up in arms about the fact that such a show was even created. Greek organizations are considered sacred, and it seems that this reality show is perceived as a dive into uncharted territory. Many believe the show portrays them (the organizations) in a negative light and takes away the esteem of the Divine Nine. In case you don't know, the Divine Nine is a group of African American sororities and fraternities that fall under the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Of course, if you want to know more about it, Google it. The purpose of this post is not to discuss the organizations and their history, but it is a chance for me to express how I feel about these organizations in general.

I tweeted that I have an unpopular opinion in regards to sororities/fraternities and I would keep it to myself. Well, I can't keep it to myself, and was wondering if maybe other people agreed with me, or would care to enlighten me in an educated, respectable manner. I'll be honest and say that I had to do a bit of research (an hour or so on Google) in order to find out more about the Divine Nine and other similar non-Divine Nine organizations. Besides a few co-workers, I don't know anyone personally who is a member of any of the Divine Nine groups. The groups started out of need for Black representation during a time when Black voices weren't being heard. In addition to creating a voice, the organizations sought to be service-oriented groups that served the communities, specifically lower income black communities. I truly admire the mission of these groups, black empowerment as well as service to the community is outstanding, but as with most things I believe it has evolved.

Overtime, the Divine Nine has seemingly become more of a social club than service club. I always see people sporting the jackets, the shirts, the hats, the license plates, etc. but as I tweeted, I hardly ever see them out in the community. I worked an event last year and I did see members from Zeta Phi Beta (a Divine Nine organization) and Order of the Eastern Star (not a part of the Divine Nine) volunteering at the same event. That was the first time in a really, really long time that I saw a Divine Nine group actually volunteering. Maybe it's just because of the area I live in, maybe there are mostly inactive chapters in my area, I'm not sure. As I said, I didn't grow up knowing what the Divine Nine was, when I was younger I just thought it was a social group for women to sport their colors, but it is more than that. In high school, several of my teachers were members of Alpha Kappa Alpha. When they would wear their attire to school, you could see their whole demeanor change, they seemed to strut, the seemed more confident, and more superior than on an average day. I don't know if it was because they were proud of the organization or just proud to be wearing the colors and proud to be a part of a group.

My unpopular opinion lies here: I don't see the purpose of the Divine Nine anymore and I don't think people understand what it means to be a part of groups such as these. That's not saying that they're purposeless, but I think they've lost sight. I think there should be less colors and attire and more service. Going back to those core roots and advertising the mission, instead of the colors. Truth be told, I think a lot of the Divine Nine groups have a negative connotation. When people think about a Delta Sigma Theta member, the first thing that comes to mind isn't the amount of community service they've clocked in. I think if you're really about serving the community and empowering other women, you don't need to always flash your colors, make your noises, and do your hand signs. I think those things mean nothing if you don't stand for the mission that these groups were founded upon. As the picture above says: If the founders were in charge of choosing members, would you and/or our line sisters/brothers even be accepted?

Personally, I couldn't see myself joining a sorority, it's not that I think they're bad, but I don't like cliques. Hell I don't even like working in groups at school. I'm fine with just being me. I'm already a part of something greater and at the end of the day, being or not being a part of a Greek Organization does not make or break you. You can develop yourself and friendships without being a part of a organization. You're not better because you're a Delta, Sigma, Alpha, Zeta, or Iota. Some people join the organizations just to think/feel they're superior, some people gain nothing in the process of joining these organizations, it's human nature. Some people see gain where others don't. I think the offensive part that has people up in arms with Sorority Sisters is the fact that they hold these groups up to the almighty standard. I'm not sure if they know it or not but people will be people no matter what group they're in. When you join a group, realize that not everyone in that group is looking at it in the same way that you are. You chose to be apart of something bigger than yourself, so you are a piece of one huge organization with many different people, it's crazy to get upset because these people aren't like you or don't hold the organization to same standard that you do. If the organization is involved in some kind of scandal and tainted in anyway, your entire group bears the cross. Mostly all black reality shows are embarrassing and demeaning, and this one is not different because the ladies are members of Divine Nine organizations.

I'm not trying to downplay the significance of the Divine Nine, but aren't they all just groups of people at the end of it all?

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