Five Biggest Misconceptions about Black Greek Life
A few weekends ago, the brothers of Omega Psi Phi invaded DC to celebrate their centennial. Being a member of the centennial club myself I must say that it is truly a powerful moment in an organization’s history. Well, as I sat on a crowded Metro train talking to a Que another patron (aka G.D.I.) comes over to us and says to the Que, “Jesus is my founder. Now beat that!” This was one of those moments that was funny at the time, but looking back on it, it was a perfect example of how people are just so aggressive towards Black Greeks. I realize they think they know each of us based on the ones they’ve been exposed to in their past, but it never ceases to be an annoyance. I’ve always thought, I made a decision to join a fraternity because I wanted to do so, it never crossed my mind that my membership in my fraternity made me any better than the next person. I always say to people on the other side, “For every stereotype that you have of Greeks, they have one of you.” For example, some Greeks think that if someone isn’t Greek they “were scared” or “the organization didn’t want them” and I’ll be the first to say, that’s not true, everyone knows not everyone has it in them to be a member of the Divine Nine. Just jokes, lol, but anyway, after evaluating the misconceptions both ways about Black Greek life, I came up with a list of the Five Biggest Misconceptions about Greek Life:
Of course before starting the post, @CarverTheGreat blesses us with another great mix, this one’s titled, Invictus. (Warning to my BGLOs, if you’re at work, this mix may cause you to A-train around the office, start a stroll line, set something owt, man at least hop to the copy machine.)
1. Its members used to be wack, or are nothing by themselves – Jay-Z said in a rap one time, “You was, who you was, before you got here.” I can’t stress this enough your organization is not going to change you but so much. Your letters cannot stop you from being loud, annoying, a pest, tacky, stinky, or uncouth. So if you meet a cool guy in a BGLO and you think, “they used to be wack,” no they either are still wack, or they were never wack at all, you’re just hating. There’s strength in numbers, we all know that. A lot of times people tend to think that if it wasn’t for a man’s frat brothers he wouldn’t act the way he does. I have seen many a Black Greeks do and say things they would have never done if they were by themselves. However, I think one thing that many people don’t realize is that there are a significant amount of Black Greeks who do anything in their power to get away from “the frat” or the “the sorority”. When someone asks me why I do that, I always tell them, “I like to figure out where you guys are so I know where not to go and see a sausage fest.” Of course you feel that none of those guys would be anything if it wasn’t for the organization they pledged when you go to a party and it’s just them, but you’re not taking into account the amount of members who didn’t come to the party.
2. High Class Loose Women and Manwhores – Most people think that men in Black Greek organizations are absolute manwhores, this is a lie that we’ve let get out of hand for the sake of our ego. I once proclaimed to frat in a Pittsburgh hotel, “Listen, I’ve met this chapter, this chapter and this chapter, listen to me though frat, if you guys are going to insist on spending all night sitting in this room talking about winning and not winning, then at 1, I’m leaving, it’s that simple.” The secret is; most Greeks spend most of their time talking about winning than actual winning in the game. Women do this too, they’ll all try and get the right outfit, then they all want to have a few drinks, then they want to talk to each other about; this Alpha, that Kappa, this Que, and then the most important part – PICTURES, and by the time they get around to talking to a guy, they’re tipsy, tired and trying to go home. I genuinely believe that you have a few guys who live the manwhore lifestyle and their reputation rubs off on the whole chapter or sometimes organization. In reality, we spend more time talking about it, than being about it.
3. The Enablement of Alcoholism and Risky Sexual Behavior – I’ve seen what it looks like from afar and it’s not pretty, but I would be remised if I didn’t mention that many people blame Black Greek life for turning promising souls into alcoholics at a young age. Honestly, I can’t say that is a misconception, but I think the misconception is that the Black Greek organization is enabling the behavior. Quite frankly, college life is enabling this behavior. If a BGLO did not have a party at which they served alcohol to minors, there would be another group on campus who would do that. Also, many people believe that BGLOs encourage risky sexual behavior. Actually, I think the members of the organization who participate in that behavior would have done so regardless of their membership. The FAMU sex tape wasn’t made with any Black Greeks it was regular students at the university. And to address this; “You guys get girls drunk and then take advantage of them because you can’t get girls any other way.” I’ve always said this, “Nobody gets you drunk, you get yourself drunk.” Someone playing devil’s advocate says, “But you don’t tell anyone what’s in the punch?” My response, “Then why the hell are you drinking it?!” Listen ain’t nobody ever told anyone that Jungle, Oil or Kappa Punch had the cure for cancer, or would help them ace their next test, if you drink it and then end up making some decisions you regret later, that’s a personal problem that you should address with yourself. As controversial as it seems, I’ve found success with telling the younger generation this, “You don’t have to force any woman to do anything she doesn’t want to do. There are plenty of women who will do anything you want to do.” Contrary to belief, THAT’S what’s preached in most frat houses in America because nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to deal with a sexual assault or rape case in the chapter.
4. Party All The Time – My junior year our chapter had three cars in the chapter, guess who didn’t have one of those cars? Me. Guess who was the youngest person in the chapter? Me. Guess who had to get on his bike and go all around campus putting up flyers from 10PM until 5AM, multiple times before a program or a party? Me. (This also resulted in me bringing back an old saying started by my chapter brother, Big Brother X-Ray Vision, “We need more Gamma Rays!”) I can understand why most people think all that Black Greeks do is party, after all you’ll always get more flyers for a party than you will for our community service events. However, the truth is, I was told early on that if I wanted to become a Black Greek because I wanted to party, it wouldn’t be enough to sustain my interest. Yeah it sounds like everything is going to be great; you’ll have access to more friends, everyone will know you, and no more standing around at the party watching the Greeks stroll, you’re right, that all sounds like a great time. That is until you have to go to your first chapter meeting, that’s when it all comes crashing down. The parties that go from midnight until the sun come up have nothing on those meetings that start at 8PM and go until 4AM. It’s nothing like; the committee meeting, the committee meeting, the meeting with the other organizations and then your chapter meeting; truth be told, you’re almost always in some meeting. Heaven forbid there’s a program the next day and you’re underprepared, you may be up all night making forum materials and setting up decorations all at the expense of your sleep. So don’t let them fool you, a whole lot more is going on than just partying.
5. Resting on a history and not building a legacy – By far and wide the biggest criticism of Black Greeks, especially the Divine Nine is that we are infatuated with our history and are not doing much to build our brand anymore. I would like to start by saying I understand where that comes from, but I disagree with it. This past weekend in Washington, DC we were supposed to attend the MLK Memorial Dedication had it not been for Hurricane Irene. This is a project that has been made possible greatly due to the work of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. While most churches have had their building funds for years and have built church after church for their congregation, Alpha has been building a monument for the American people. The project has cost the organization and its members hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s something that we’re doing today. I can only speak for my organization and I’m sure that every organization can speak on theirs but in the past few years Alpha has been at the forefront of social change in America. We cancelled our national convention in Arizona after racist legislation was passed that allowed racial profiling. We dedicated resources, financial and manpower to Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti. Many brothers took off work, unpaid to assist with the effort in Haiti. Even as Alpha Brother Mario Perez faced deportation the frat took a stand and worked to stop Mario’s deportation. Those are things that we do in addition to our national programs, those are things that we all take time out of our busy lives to do without having to be dragged into action.
Those are my five. Of course there’s others like Black Greeks don’t graduate or they have poor grades, but I think those are once again when people focus on the exception and not the majority. You think it’s bad to get cussed out, well it’s worse when your whole chapter asks, “what type of member are you if you can’t maintain a 3.0?” And yes, I’ve witnessed that. These are my five. I’m interested to start a discussion around myths, misconceptions and misconceived notions of Greek Life. See you guys next week, trust me you’re going to want to be around for that one.
– Dr. J
More Information about Today’s Mix, Invictus: 1. School Spirit by Kanye West, 2. Drop It Like It’s Hot by Snoop Dogg, 3. Stand Up by Ludacris, 4. F*ck The Other N*ggas by No Limit, 5. Ante Up by M.O.P., 6. Touch It by Busta Rhymes, 7. Pump It Up by Joe Budden, 8. Fire by Joe Budden, 9. Atomic Dog by Parliament
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