I push publish with anxiety...but I will still publish this anyway.
All of us in the Divine 9 breathed a sigh of relief as did our National Presidents when we found out that the poor soul that had been hazed to death at Florida A & M University was in a Band Fraternity, not one of ours.
But it didnt lessen the hurtful blow of another hazing death.
In case you have been under a rock, in November 2011, FAMU Drum Major, Robert Champion, was hazed and subsequently died of injuries resulting from hazing activities. Check Out The Video Below from CNN.
Then it dawned on us...it has happened before and if we dont stop hazing, it will happen again.
...but we really dont want to...stop it.
Let's be honest how do we feel about those who didnt pledge, I mean really. We can say that we are all Sorors and Bruhs, but you know that you side-eye old Girl with a 36 on her back, like "Yeah, right...we aint clutching the same pearls...just the same amount."
Our process will never really stop because of tradition and because we do not want our chapter or our Neo's to be "that chapter" that everybody sighs at. Even if we havent paid our dues or dont have the GPA to be active, we still want to be the outtest and the hardest, because that makes us a better AlphaDeltaKappaOmegaSigmaZetaRhoIota and all.
Our culture as Black Greeks of hazing has caused several deaths and many injuries and we proudly proclaim that we are the Bloody whatever chapter. Even prominent Pastors like Jamal Bryant(Kappa Alpha Psi) and politcal media giants like Roland Martin(Alpha Phi Alpha) speak fondly of the fact that they "pledged." I bet if you get behind closed doors each and every National President proudly hangs a paddle on their wall and its not one that was always just for decoration.
In Defense of the Paddle ...not "making somebody" feels like a fundamental disrespect to your letters, your chapter and in the end to the pledge, because they will never receive the fellowship or the love that you have received because you were able to endure the brutality that pledging causes and creates within you.
...and trust me, that duck, ivy or ape never dies. You always think about being early and being on time, or have a greater understanding of having hood versus throwing somebody under the bus. You might even get the itch to poke a punk mofo in the chest if they disrespect you. I mean if you pledged, you know exactly what I mean.
Well there is never any evidence and we all come out unscathed-until somebody dies.
So here we are, at a major cross roads. Once again the spirit of death has run amuck within the Black community at the hands of another Black person. But this time it was not in the mean streets of Chicago or in deep East Oakland. This murder occured on the campus of one of most prestigious institutions of higher learning, FAMU.
Wow...have we really come this far to fall this far?
I honestly do not have the answer, I realize that this culture cannot really be UNbred in somebody that has gone through a process, because a certain brainwashing happens, that can't be undone...unless they experience a family member or friend dying due to hazing.
We took our collegiate hazing culture and our young children of the 80's who had been exposed to extreme violence and a gang mentality and we sent them to college. Then they pledged, and started whoopin' a$$ like they had been whooped on the block. It has become too much power for these 18 year olds. I shutter to think about how silly I was at 18.
However, our organizations are now drying up:
- financially because of the lawsuits
- in membership due to a of lack of interest
The only way to maintain the PR and the interest is to have Probates...and if you didnt pledge, you dont have enough fear or pride to properly "set that shit out!"...like my dean told me. The undergrads are the faces of our beloved organizations and the reason why many who have gone grad-made that decision.
So, Greeks, what do we do?
If something isnt working, dont we change it??...But how can we while still mainitaing the love?
How do we respond to "the process" in the wake of 12 young people potentially getting 10-15 years in prison for a little college hazing?
Do we just say, "Im not going to risk my pearls, jewels or letters...but do what you gotta do." Turning a blind eye to the process? I mean, we made it through, right?
What do we say to the parents when we send their children back home with busted ribs or an ear-drum that doesnt quite work well??...actually those arent the big issues, the big issue is what do we say to those parents when their child is never coming home?
"I wanted them to be hard, I didnt know they had a heart condition?"
I mean I want my daughter to be a Delta. And I can honestly say that I dont want her to be Cat either. But I damn sure dont want to see her in a red coffin because somebody didnt know her pain threshold or because she fell asleep at the wheel in oncoming traffic.
Im going to ask again, what do we do?
What will you do, my fellow Black Greeks?
Sharelle D. Lowery, I had too much heart to write it anonymously