Black and white greek life differentBy Xavier Burgin | 11/17/2011 9:12am
It has been a very exciting and introspective semester for many individuals if you’ve kept up with the plethora of on-campus political scandals and secret society exposés presented by The Crimson White. The majority of our informed readers’ entertainment has stemmed from the current SGA political scandal along with detailed and straightforward information pertaining to Theta Nu Epsilon, lovingly referred to as The Machine. The mishaps, missteps and overall corruption of the Greek system at The University of Alabama has been picked, interviewed and explained from every angle possible. Virtually no stone has been left unturned. I can only predict the final feat left for The CW would involve finding a credible source that could name all members in the current incarnation of The Machine.
Still, one avenue has not been explored pertaining to greek life on campus. This would specifically be the relationship between the ongoing occurrences and its connection with the black-greek population. My beloved Caucasian and/or Anglo-American counterparts . . . yes, we have African-American students who are also greek.
If you recall, at the beginning of the semester Alabama had a semi-entertaining love romp with Daniel Tosh and Anderson Cooper in regards to the sorority rap video that went viral. I was the individual first contacted to record the video, but declined due to a lack of time in my schedule. I would later outsource the project to one of my colleagues who also shoots commissioned work on the side.
Fast-forward to Anderson Cooper making semi-corny hip-hop quips as the sorority girls danced in the background. I thanked sweet baby Jesus the planets did not align and cause me to be the creator of the video. I also told my colleague to take the video down from his website so no one would trace the lyrical abomination back to him and attack his artistic credibility as a cinematographer. I say all of this to lead into the youtube comments.
They were all unnecessarily vicious toward the girls, but one stood out to me. An individual defending the girls’ attempts at rhyming explained the lack of African-American sorority members in the video as black greeks ostracizing themselves from the general greek community.
I could only scoff at the comment. How far from the truth could this person stray? To be an African-American greek on this campus is to live in a perpetual state of limbo outside of the general populace’s understanding save other black students. We are a prominent fixture in UA’s culture, yet our prominence only feebly reaches outside of the black community on campus. I am a part of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Our colors are purple and gold. We wear purple and gold combat boots in honor of our fraternity’s hallowed traditions. Unfortunately, during the Alabama versus LSU weekend we were routinely mistaken for adamant LSU fans. The only reason we weren’t constantly heckled is because our members tend to be very muscular, and very black.
This general ignorance of our presence is very noticeable in relations with predominately white fraternity and sororities. Ignorance may not be the right word. It would be better coined as a lack of acknowledgement. White fraternities and sororities know there are black greeks, but consider us another specific group outside of their comfort zone. There are exceptions. The women of Delta Gamma are quite possibly the most super-fun-awesome individuals I’ve met on campus, but this was a very rare occurrence. It is one I don’t expect to happen on a regular basis.
As black greeks, we look at the ongoing scandals pertaining to the white greeks and shrug our shoulders. The sheer amount of disconnect between the white and black greek community is so prevalent, we do not consider ourselves a part of the same system in an overall sense. Ironically, in times of crisis we tend to sway with the non-white greek campus’ opinions on matters of The Machine. Even as greeks we consider it our enemy. Well...we consider it our enemy during SGA and Homecoming elections. We could care less afterwards, which is a terrible truth.
We work in our specific sphere of influence just as they do. We are the same, yet vastly different. Apples and oranges. Day and Night. Black and white.
Our only commonality seems to be the word “greek.”