A little over a month ago, Jezebel released a “batshit” sorority email about new member recruitment. We elected not to cover it, because it wasn’t crazy. It was a set of normal guidelines for any woman who is going to be expected to look professional. Do your eyebrows. Don’t wear a bright or distracting nail polish. Invest in a pair of Spanx to smooth out your body. It’s not that big a deal, yet everybody freaked out about requiring this type of conformity — a conformity, by the way, that nearly every business ever will require of you to look professional in the future, so what-the-fuck-ever.
But now the claim has been made that the type of conformity stemming from saying beach waves are not appropriate for a formal event like recruitment is actually what’s leading to sorority segregation.
I’m not going to sit here and try to pretend that there isn’t a disproportionate number of black girls to white girls in Panhellenic sororities. The numbers don’t lie, the photos don’t lie, and the experiences don’t lie. There are more white girls — enough more that it does seem segregated, and schools like the University of Alabama don’t help. With its sorority recruitment scandal from several years ago during which a prime candidate did not receive a single bid simply because she was black, UA has really hurt our cause.
Clio Chang, a writer for US News writes:
In the 1950s, white suburban neighborhoods that had new black families move in saw their property values decline. White families would protest and even riot when black families tried to purchase houses in their neighborhood – the most famous example being Daisy and Bill Myers, who moved into the suburb of Levittown, Pennsylvania.
Diversity in Greek life matters. Like predominately white neighborhoods, which typically have better housing, better schools, better transportation and thus better outcomes for their residents, white Greek-letter organizations concentrate privilege and power among their membership.
This, Chang claims, is in part, what eventually leads to the underrepresentation of minorities among our country’s most powerful — Fortune 500 executive, Supreme Court Justices, etc, all of which skew significantly Greek.
I don’t disagree that a problem may exist, and more minorities in Greek life might help, but I argue that the problem starts way before students get to college and make the decisions that will ultimately affect them — or their demographics, as it may be — for the rest of their lives. Throughout my three years of recruitment as a member of my sorority, I spoke to one African American PNM. One. That wasn’t because my sorority had the opportunity to drop the rest of them so quickly on racist principles before I had a chance to meet them. They simply did not choose to rush Panhellenic sororities.
This is something we see way before college. Take the high school cafeteria for example. There are tables full of white girls, tables of Asian girls, and tables of black girls. That’s not to say there no exceptions. There will be a black girl at a “white table,” or a white girl at an “Asian table,” but you’ll generally see the unfortunate trends. No one is forcing anyone to sit that way. No one is choosing anyone’s friends, but the students are self-segregating. I’m not going to speculate as to why. I don’t know why. I just know that this phenomenon exists and it exists long before students decide whether or not they want to go Greek.
This exists on all different levels, too. From the friends we make in school, to the wage gap disproportionately affecting minorities and white people, to misrepresentation of minorities in positions of power, to overrepresentation of minorities incarcerated every year. Race issues, or “segregation,” if you’d prefer to call it that, are a problem, but it’s not because there aren’t a lot of black women in Panhellenic sororities. That is an unfortunate result of a problem that exists on a much wider scale, and I’m sick of people blaming Greeks for all of this country’s problems. We’re the easy scapegoat, and enough is enough. We are products of the environment we grew up in — products of the nation we were raised in. Greeks are not causing the problem, they’re caused by the problem. So quit trying to get a bunch of 19-year-olds to come up with solutions for the things an entire society is fucking up..
[via US News]
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