Sep 202013
 

alabamasealI’ve been following the sorority debacle at the University of Alabama with some interest. If you’ve not been paying attention, the basic story is that a black student applied to four different sororities; the girls in the respective houses wanted her; and the respective alumnae thwarted it, procedurally or whatever.

That may be a smidge oversimplified, but that’s the gist.

Now my entire direct experience with the Greek life consists of spending about three weeks as an Alpha Tau Omega pledge at the University of Alabama in Huntsville 24 years ago. But a high school classmate of mine—someone whose intelligence and values I respect—spent her college years in a sorority. So I emailed her and told her the situation at Alabama looked pretty repulsive to me, and asked her if there was anything I was missing.

She agreed that it was an appalling situation, but bristled a bit at the university administration dictating to the sororities. She said the real change needed to come from the national chapters—as in sororities and fraternities needed to establish meaningful incentives for chapters to integrate.

So that begged a big question. At how many other schools is this happening?

The answer is a lot.

This is hardly an Alabama-only problem. There’s just a bit too much glee in pretending it is in some commentaries I’ve read. Alabama is king of college football, but didn’t integrate the team until 1971. Alabama is where George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door.

And look at those stupid racist hicks in 2013, who still haven’t learned.

Yes. And no. This has nothing specific to do with Alabama. It has everything to do with racist attitudes inflicted from previous generations, with all-too-real effects on present ones.

I know almost no one younger than his/her mid-40s or so who is racist, and the few I can think of are directly informed by particularly vocal and/or committed “elders.” Hey folks? Us current generations are nearly all the way over this.

If you can’t feel it in your heart, at least be polite and keep your mouths shut.

National organizations, please take a productive and unambiguous lead in incentivizing your chapters to integrate.

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     Posted by at 12:29 am

      2 Responses to “On Alabama sororities and a black girl”

    1. I don’t think our current generation is “over” racism any more than we are “over” sexism. However, in both cases we are over the most overt and disgusting cases. What we are left with is an (often unconscious) legacy which influences our actions. Hardly any one is an “out and proud” racist/sexist, but we often behave in ways which separate, isolate, and demean others based on their skin color, sex, and, to be honest, an entire laundry list of other factors (sexual orientation, age, weight, disability, etc, etc.)

      • Well, I did say “nearly.”

        When we get to separating, isolating, and demeaning others, I believe there’s a baseline level of that we’ll never get over. Some number of people are going to be some level of nasty. That’s as constant as anything in human history.

        In many cases what makes racism, sexism, or any other prejudice overt and disgusting is its systemization. Once we take that apart, our best hope comes from raising generations without it, doesn’t it?

        (But assholes have babies too.) :-)

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