Sorority Sisters: I Am My Sister’s Keeper…Even When She Belongs To Another Sorority
There is a common thought in social media that as African Americans…we should not be upset about the show “Sorority Sisters” if we aren’t upset about shows like “Love and Hip Hop” or “Real Housewives of Atlanta”. While the majority of our African American community may not understand the outrage the Black Greek community has expressed, the feelings we share are valid for numerous reasons. First and foremost, our organizations are all over 100 years old or nearly there. Each one was created by a set of trailblazers that set out to establish something that didn’t exist in the black community. Our common cause was to advance the economic and educational development of our people who had just been released from slavery. Slavery was abolished in 1865 and a mere 41 years later, the first black collegiate fraternity was founded at an all white college, Cornell University.
A few of these organizations, faced the challenges of extreme racism at white schools to not only create an avenue for them to receive their education at the college of their choice but to establish a network for other African Americans who wished to take the same path in the future for generations to come. Women like Coretta Scott King, Phylicia Rashad, Hattie McDaniel, Nikki Giovanni, and Zora Neale Hurston have all come from these Black Greek Lettered Sororities. These women have helped shape our society. Women in these sororities are bound by a pledge of sisterhood. We come from all different walks of life and we pay for the privilege of serving our respective communities. We mentor young girls, teach them how to become young ladies, help them on their path to college with scholarships and then teach them how to be tomorrow’s leaders when they join our respective organizations.
The notion of comparing such a group of women with women who are connected simply because they live in the same city, they know somebody, they want to make money, their husbands play basketball or whatever is insulting. The demographic that is being compared to black sororities doesn’t have a structured focus, and are not part of a structured organization; an institution if you will that has national directives and outreach programs all over the globe. Does that make us better? No, not really. It does however, distinguish us from others because we do have a common purpose and are agents of change.
We are agents of change because each and every one of our organizations engages in community service that addresses issues like economic development, breast cancer awareness, healthy heart programs, and educational enrichment. Each group supports causes like Ronald McDonald House, March of Dimes and St. Jude. Given the history of these sororities has been explored; it should be easier to see more clearly, how members of these sororities would be offended by a show whose premise has absolutely nothing to do with our mission, goals or achievements. As a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., I must express that I personally do not feel that my soror, Catherine Harper, has misrepresented our organization. I do believe however, that as members, when our Grand Chapter gives us a directive in regards to our purpose or representation of this sorority, we must acquiesce. Let’s face it; it’s evident that the show is purposefully intending to misrepresent these sororities because it excludes everything the sororities do. So far, nothing in the premise of the show addresses anything related to life as a member of a Black Greek Lettered Organization. What this show is is a group of women who are in sororities, who are living their dreams and hashing out their personal differences.
While there are those who have engaged in behaviors that are not well received when representing their respective organizations on national television, America should understand that black sororities aren’t college clubs. Those ladies are individuals following their own life paths. They are young; most likely not in the group long enough to be the type of members that can discern the true intent of the show. It doesn’t appear to me that they are intending to misrepresent their organizations, they are representing themselves. It is VH1 who allows this show to be aired under the guise that this represents black sororities. We are not a group of women who sit around “downing” each other. The vast majority of us works together and serves together. There is a purpose behind our image and it is not self serving. We make no personal profit from what we do. For our beloved organizations, this was the last straw in the assault on black women and we are protecting what is sacred to us.
Our participation in these civic groups does not stop after we graduate college. We support our organizations financially; we lend our personal and professional talents. We join as members in all phases of life but more often than not, we grow up in these organizations and blossom into successful leaders in our communities. We safeguard our image fiercely because of the 54 collective founders that came before us. We honor and revere them as we do our history and everything we hold near and dear to us. AKA, Delta, Zeta and Sigma Gamma Rho are institutions, their memberships boasts some of the greatest icons in American black history. Bottom line: The women on shows like Love and Hip Hop and Real Housewives represent themselves every day all day. They have the right to do that. Members of Black Greek Lettered Organizations do not have the luxury of representing themselves no matter what they may think individually because no one sees us as individuals. When America tunes in on Monday nights, they believe they are catching a glimpse into sorority life hence the deceptive name of the show. If you would like to know how you can help, please read the joint statement released by the National Pan Hellenic Council (NPHC) and sign the online petition to have the show removed from the air.
The opinions expressed in this article are mine and are not associated with any of the NPHC organizations other than the commentary that supports the joint statement that was released. If you would like to follow the trends on social media or if you are posting in regards to the topic please use the following hash tags: