Gamma Phi Why?

27 Oct

I don’t want to take for granted that everyone reading understands what these pictures mean.  In Black America (I apologize if that distinction offends you, I simply mean the culture specific to Black Americans) some of our most influential leaders were members of Greek organizations.  Those organizations for women are (represent from left to right: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho) Most organizations were founded within twenty years of each other beginning in the early 1900s at universities in the north.  Black college students mobilized and organized themselves in these greek brother and sisterhoods for the sake of promoting scholarship and academic achievement, service to the community, and sisterhood or brotherhood among its members. Each organization has their own creed, but most boil down to those three things.  That was then…

Now, are sororities (in specific) still promoting those ideals?  For those readers who are in undergraduate years of education you may often see (first) the social interaction greeks have with the campus community.  Our greeks at my Univ. threw parties, had step shows, ran concessions at the football games, held pageants, had scholarships, held forums for student discussion etc. Sometimes, however, the poor choices and actions of a few members would overshadow the good intentions of the group itself.  Do you think this is an “in general” observation?  Are greek organizations still promoting those fundamental ideals?

For those of us who are past the undergraduate phase of life, this may not even be a blip on our radar.  However, these organizations stress that the membership is a lifetime commitment.  Do we, as adults, see the good anymore?  A friend of mine, who is greek, recently said to me, “What do [Greek organizations post-grad] do that you couldn’t do on your own?” So I pose that question to you, ladies.  Are they needed past undergrad? If so, why? If not, then why not? If these are role models, pillars, innovators within the black community, then it is worth it to question the efficacy of their constituents.

As a black woman, I definitely believe we need all the sisterhood we can get, but are we getting it here? Is it necessary? What are we gaining, or what do we stand to gain?

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2 Responses to “Gamma Phi Why?”

  1. Brownbelle October 31, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    I’m a proud member of a Divine 9 sorority but I understand where you’re coming from. I’ve found that I am an anomaly in the Greek world because I don’t define myself at all by my organization. None of the others were right for me, but my letters don’t make me or break me. If I lost them tomorrow I wouldn’t be happy, but it wouldn’t be a personal tragedy either.

    I believe that the Divine 9 has great potential. I believe that our founders meant for the orgs to provide a galvanizing force–two heads are better than one. And individual service is great, but when 5, 10 20, 100 people are working to achieve the same goal you can have a much greater impact. There aren’t any official stats, but many of the blacks you see on Capitol Hill, in the executive boardrooms, in classrooms and in the courts are products of the black Greek system.

    Unfortunately, I’ve seen on my own undergrad campus that sometimes the Divine Nine becomes little more than a social club. Throw a party or a step show and everybody’s in the building, visit a soup kitchen and you’re lucky to get a handful of folks in attendance. The rivalries, while meant to be playful, often get serious–especially at PWIs where everyone is vying for the cream of an already small black population for new members.

    In addition, most people join during their college years when they’re trying to live up to who they want to be and haven’t yet figured out who they are. So they join whatever frat or sorority their mama/daddy/uncle/favorite teacher was in, often doing little to no research beforehand, and are encouraged to fall unquestioningly in line during the pledge process. When they’re finally official, they’re too busy enjoying all the perks of Greek life to really think about the legacy they want to leave with their chapter, and so the cycle continues.

    There’s no real fix for any of this–it takes individual members taking a stand in their chapters and insisting that they live out their principles of serving the community instead of just going through the motions. It takes individual chapters deciding to work with their sister and brother Greeks instead of competing. Relations are better on a graduate/alumni level but still have a long way to go.

    • Jess J. November 1, 2010 at 2:41 am #

      “it takes individual members taking a stand in their chapters and insisting that they live out their principles of serving the community instead of just going through the motions. It takes individual chapters deciding to work with their sister and brother Greeks instead of competing.” Excellent point, and I’d love to see that happen. I have infinite admiration for upwardly mobile men and women of color, especially those that are not too concerned with competition to help their brother or sister. To be the best, you must compete among the best, right?

      Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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