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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Whites joining black fraternities...

I have to admit that I admire black greek organizations. There were founded for the benefit of those blacks who were lucky enough to attain some form of higher education when it was difficult to do so. In fact most of these organizations were founded in the last century on such predominantly white campuses as Cornell University or Indiana University. Of course today one could question why such organizations could exists on the campuses of HBCUs. Some would consider these organizations dividing influences.

Well whatever the arguments are these organizations have had leaders within them. Some became politicians, athletes, entertainers, businessmen, etc. They also offer something that say white greek organizations do not. What is touted is a life time bond as a member of one of these Greek organizations. Also I also admire their traditions as well.

So then after I saw an Asian guy cross as Phi Beta Sigma last year I wanted to find out if other non-black were joining black fraternities and sororities. So through Find Articles I found this article from a December 2000 Ebony magazine article. Here's what Cassandra Black, National President of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc., says about this phenomenon...

"It's happening more now because our organizations offer a couple of things that have turned out to be very desirable for non-African-Americans--perpetual membership and community service to name a few," she says. "We have a moral fabric that is more desirable to some people. Historically, White fraternities have reputations for drinking and other behaviors, and some people don't want to be associated with that."
Now of course what crops up here is that blacks may wind up losing another one of their traditions. It is noted that white may have had a hand in the support and the formation of the black greek lettered fraternities and sororities. Still the concern of losing another tradition is there...

Cassandra Black of National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc. says though she doesn't condone unfair treatment, she understands the concern by some individual members. "There are people who feel that any time you allow White people to learn your secrets, they will take it over," she says. "Some people feel this may have been the last bastion of Black ownership."

Black and Alpha Lawrence C. Ross Jr., author of the Divine Nine: The History of African-American Fraternities and Sororities, agree, however, that fear of Whites taking over Black organizations is mostly unfounded. As early as 1947, Ross says, Black sororities and fraternities started admitting Whites in response to the changing times and increasing interest from White students. (Kappa Alpha Psi, he says, never had restrictive rule.) Still, there's been no rush for Whites to join Black organizations. "By the very nature of [racism] and our being African-American," he says, "we won't get a stampede of people wanting to join. It hasn't worked that way with Black churches or any of our other historic organizations."
Oh and imagine this a white man a member of Omega Psi Phi. This is an interesting image would you like to meet one...

...Dr. Jere Roberson, a 60-year-old professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, who pledged Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in 1977. Though he grew up in segregated Nashville and attended Auburn University in Alabama during the tenure of segregationist Governor George Wallace, he considers joining the Black fraternity one of most important moments of his life. He still remembers walking in line with his Omega brothers and holding a lamp as a pledge.

"They make me feel at home, comfortable and happy," says the director of the Ethnic Studies Department who founded a scholarship for young Black men. "That's what made me want to trade secrets with them. I have met some wonderful people. Plus, purple and gold looks really cool," he says, laughing.
Homecoming at Morehouse especially for recent graduates can be described easily as a family reunion of sorts. Perhaps that's what a fraternity or a sorority is, but I suppose only if the experience has been nothing but positive. I mean this was what some of these organizations were based on somewhat especially for those blacks who were fortunate enough attain some higher education.

Finally I want to make a quick note. On my other blog I posted a picture of a Que dog. I understand that to be a Que Dog indicates that you are completing the pledging process. If you are full fledged members you are referred to as an Omega Man. I just want to give them my respect because that wasn't my intent to cause any disrespect.

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