How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Divine Nine


I attended a wedding last Friday. It was a great event. Good food, a live band, a great DJ, and it featured a bride/groom first dance that, if someone uploads it to YouTube, has a legitimate chance of going viral. And, since both The Wife Person and I knew both the bride and the groom, there were dozens of people there we also both knew, which made it feel more like the most expensive college party you've ever attended than a wedding.


Also, the bride is a Delta; the groom an Alpha. And, if anyone has ever attended a wedding featuring a member of the Divine Nine, you know there will be some strolling, some chanting, and some seemingly random unintelligible shouts that continue to seem random and unintelligible until you realize seven different people are doing it. Basically, it'll feel like some Illuminati-ass shit.

Usually, my first reaction to this is annoyance. I get annoyed when 37-year-old men find the need to stroll at daytime potlucks, or when I get an email from a Delta and her signature is a bunch of bedazzled midget elephants constructed to spell her name, or when a Kappa says "Hi." But this was different. There was so much intergenerational love involved that it all felt cool. So cool in fact that I felt a way I've never felt before about any frat/soro-related activity.


In college, pledging was never on my radar. I don't have any family members who belong to any frats/soros, there were no Black chapters at my school, and being on the basketball team was already sorta like being in a frat. I already was able to cut the lines at parties, I already was mandated to do community service, and I already had a bunch of cool sweatshirts with my name on them. I just didn't really see the point in paying to have people beat you into friendship and I'd thumb my nose at people who did. Also, I think geography played a huge role in my perception. I'm a Northerner and from what I understand, frats/soros are a much, much, much bigger deal in the South. And by "the South" I mean "anything below Pennsylvania." There it seems like joining a frat/soro is what the cool kids did. I, however, felt it was something the uncool kids did to be cool.

Since then, my feelings have grown much less cynical. Much of this is due to my adult interactions with frat/soro members, Deltas specifically. I've befriended and dated a number of them, and I've seen first hand how their memberships weren't crutches or props as much as a large network of support and fellowship. And I can't really fault another Black American for seeking a safety net to help them navigate through America. Obviously, the typical freshman considering pledging Que might be thinking more about panties and parties than post-graduate partnerships. And perhaps the frats helping to organize protest marches, or the soros who mobilized to support Loretta Lynch were those horny and half-baked 18-year-olds when they first pledged too. In fact, I'm sure they were. But if a social decision an 18-year-old makes ends up being a net positive as an adult, a less than positive intent for making the decision just doesn't matter as much.

And while I have no intent on pledging any grad chapters, attending that wedding and watching those Black women and men — some in their 20s; some in their 70s — stroll and chant and dance with each other like they all were on the same line, made me get a little verklempt. I get it now.


(But, I still don't get the damn elephants.)

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


Brandon Allen

In all seriousness. Greek life is not that serious. I feel like that we give it a lot of power which leads to a lot of unnecessary foolishness internally and also disdain externally. In reality it's all about people trying to get ahead in life. I'm from the north and a kappa and the South just takes everything to an unnecessary extreme, but that's not only greek life. As a morehouse grad, A lot HBCU have a similar ridiculousness.