Last week, during one of our class discussions, one of my students asked me why there are black and white sororities. I was taken aback, but the student is a senior and about to go to college where this will become an issue. I had never attempted to pledge a sorority, mainly because they were not allowed on my college's campus (we had so-called social clubs, which were knock off sororities and fraternities, but I digress). I've just never really been into the sorority scene. I did community service through my campus job and clubs, I didn't like to party, and I barely could deal with one or two roommates.
Anyway, the student then asked to clarify why there were separate sororities and fraternities. I explained that the "black" sororities and fraternities were founded because black college students were not allowed to pledge the white sororities and fraternities. I then explained that the traditions continue, because many of the "white" sororities and fraternities STILL don't want to pledge black members to their sororities and fraternities. Some, not all. I also explained that many "black" sororities and fraternities do pledge white members. Having attended an HBCU, I've seen white sorority girls and white fraternity boys. Yet, I explained, it is still difficult for black students to break the ranks of the "white" sororities and fraternities. I used the University of Alabama as an example. As we continued the discussion, another student chimed in to say that during one of the college days they had attended, they had heard an official say that they believed that in the very near future that sororities and fraternities were going to go to the wayside and eventually be gone from most if not all campuses do to the continued issues of lack of diversity, alcohol consumption, racial/sexual insensitivity, and hazing issues. I don't know if that's true, but it does give you pause especially in light of the Oklahoma incident.
Everyone else has put in their two cents, so I might as well throw in mine. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have to have heard about the fine, young men of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Chapter at the University of Oklahoma, and the bus trip they will never forget. The young fraternity members were singing a racist chant on a bus that included no black people signing with the frat, or that they can hang them from a tree.
America is always ready to tell black people that we are too sensitive, and that we throw the race card far too often. This ladies and gentlemen is the reason why. All too often, we see young men and women throughout the country doing overtly racist acts and then trying to pass them off as jokes. They are not jokes; they are not funny; they are offensive. I just do not understand how reasonably educated people can find this appropriate, and I have seen many comments where people are defending the young men. What they did was indefensible. Praise the person who recorded it and posted it, because they felt it was wrong.
Now the young men of the fraternity are without a house, the people who run the house are without a job, and the two leaders of the chant are without a school. Here is something I will never be able to understand. You sit with each other in classrooms; you do projects with each other for class; you go to football/basketball games together; you play on the teams together; you celebrate victories together; you share dorms; but you cannot pledge to be brothers and sisters together? This confuses me. It's like those high schools that still have separate proms, but everyone attends the homecoming dance. It makes no sense. Whatever happened to the golden rule-"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
No matter what you believe
Jesus: Love thy neighbor as thyself.
Buddha: Consider others as yourself.
Mohammed: Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind.
The Talmud: What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man. That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary.
Egyptian Late Period Papyrus: That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.
Epicurus: Neither harm nor be harmed.
Confucius: Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.
If only we all could follow these simple maxims, how much greater would our country, our world be. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated.
Until next time, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”- Nelson Mandela