I have often been asked by my friends of Anglo descent why there is still a need for fraternal groups of color in this day and time. In the past, it has taken a long explanation beginning with the history of such organizations, the traditions, blah blah blah and on and on. For some, the explanation has sufficed, and yet for others, they just didn’t still see the need. I wonder after this week’s SAE/OU disgrace if they still feel the same.
I wonder if they see the eerie correlation between a group of African American men on the campus of Cornel University in Ithica, New York in 1906; having a need to create a safe place, a bond, a fellowship, a camaraderie to help them face the evils of prejudice and racism that confronted them on a daily basis.
I wonder if they understand the feelings of exclusion or the insults in the casual dismissals of references to lynching sung cheerfully and celebratory in song.
I wonder if they have heard the responses in the midst of those who have the audacity to say, “Their only kids. Who didn’t do something stupid when they were in college.”
As a member of a Black Greek Letter Organization (BGLO), I take pride in the history and the legacy of my black greekdom – yes I made up a word. It was my Sorors (that’s short for sorority sisters) who were there to support me as I faced the trials and tribulations of the predominately white institution of higher learning that I attended in the South. It was as a member of a BGLO that I learned and exercised Robert’s Rules of Order, how to preside over an organization, the true meaning of service to mankind and most of all how to navigate the waters in conflict.
As a member of a BGLO at a predominately white institution of higher learning, I had the opportunity to serve as an officer of the campus Panhellenic Society. Our greek letters did not separate and detach governance along race like they do now. We sat down at the table with our white sisters (same tree, different branches) and we stood in solitude to promote those issues that we had in common. We participated in a joint RUSH and we even extended invitations to pledge to people who did not look like us but shared our values. No one took us up on the invitations, but that’s not because we did not invite them. We co-existed peacefully and without conflict. We were interdependent.
That was exactly 35 years ago this spring. In 35 years, we have not reached a level of intradependency. This is very telling regarding the so-called “progress” that we have made in terms of racial relations. I keep waiting for the tide to turn, for the next generation to “see color” and embrace the beauty and the wonderfulness of living in a world that contains all 64 colors.
Remember as a kid getting the largest box of Crayons – the one with 64 colors and a sharpener on the back? I always wanted THAT box of crayons because you could do so many different things with that many colors. Not a melting pot of colors, but a big ole bucket of colors, each having its own distinct beauty.
I long for the day that we all get excited about the big box of Crayons.