Ten years ago, I was hard at work writing my first book, The Divine Nine, when I began wondering: What are the real life stages of Black Greek life? How do you look at Black Greekdom from when you're first initiated until you're old and jaundiced?
So I jotted down a few amusing anecdotes, and sent it to the National Pan Hellenic Council list serve for their enjoyment. I then watched as my piece mutated into infinite versions, all hitting my email without my name on the byline.
Anyway, I dug up my original piece and decided to do an update. So here's a humorous look at The Real Life Stages of Black Greekdom, from the point of view of your average Black Greek. Enjoy!
Year One to Year Five
I am the most hardcore member to ever enter my organization. No one pledged harder over those four weeks, loved their organization more, or repped it with more passion than me. I am down for my brothers/sisters and they're down for me. No one should even think about dissing my organization because I take anything said very seriously.
And when it comes to paraphernalia, no one has more than me. I make it a point to wear Greek letters everyday. My car has a license plate, back window sticker, and a flag with my orgs letters. My house? A shrine to my organization.
And I travel. Man, do I travel. If there's a step show or picnic in my area, and when I mean area, I mean within one thousand miles of my house, I am there. I'll step and stroll at the drop of a dime, chant with the best of them, and will diss other orgs for being weak versions of my organization. I pity them.
By the way, did I mention that I pledged harder than anyone else over four weeks?
Year Five to Year Ten
Boy, do I miss being on the yard. Why do I have to go to these graduate chapter meetings? They are boring as hell. The members are so old; I'll bet they went to school with our founders. Yeah, some are cool, but man, they just won't stop talking. A four-hour meeting? For real? Plus, they won't let the young members do anything. See, that's what's wrong with our organization. Old people. There's too many of them.
And don't get me started about what's happening at my college chapter. They won't listen to me, no matter how right I am and how wrong they are. Yeah, I know I'm too old to be at their campus parties, but they need to show deference to old heads like myself. See, that's what wrong with our organization. No respect for their fraternal elders.
On another note, where the heck are my line members? How come they're not active? They said they would never go inactive. I gotta do something about that.
By the way, did I mention that I pledged harder than anyone else over eight weeks?
Year Ten to Year Fifteen
I could step if I had to, you know. I just don't know if my bad knee would hold out. Plus, I injured my back playing with the kids… Regardless, all they do on the yard is dance over music. That is not stepping, people! We need to go back to the old school, for real!
I'm running the graduate chapter now, and motivating these new college members coming into the chapter is like pulling teeth. All they talk about is how they did it at this campus and that campus. Hello? You have your degree; let your college days go for goodness sake. No one cares if you ran the yard. How about running the committee so we can get some work done?
And why do they insist on calling me "old school" and then snicker like someone told them a joke. I don't find it funny. I'm still young! I listen to hip-hop, and my kids and I love Drake.
Uh, has anyone seen my paraphernalia? I need some new stuff because right now, the only place where I wear my gear is to bed or out in the yard when I need to cut the yard.
By the way, did I mention that I pledged harder than anyone else over twelve weeks?
Year Twenty and beyond
Why in the world do we have college chapters anyway? All they do is put the organization at risk. And how dare they have parties or fun! The organization is about business, and they just don't understand.
Uh, who's going to the graduate chapter boat dance? I got a promotion at work, so I'm going to rock my designer duds. I gotta let members know that I've rolling in dough. As for wearing paraphernalia, the general rule is that the older you get, the smaller your para, so I wear a pin from time to time. Nothing more.
Do I dislike members of other organizations? Heck no! Shoot, they might be the ones to get me a job or a hook up!
Right now, the only thing that matters to me is that my offspring becomes a member. If they don't, I will disinherit them. Okay, I'm sorta joking about that, but sorta not.
At this point, life is good in the organization. Everyone respects me. I have nothing more to prove.
By the way, did I mention that I pledged harder than anyone else for over a year, and I did it in the snow, without shoes?
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Lawrence Ross is the author of the Los Angeles Times best-seller The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities. His newest book, Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America’s Campuses, is a blunt and frank look at the historical and contemporary issue of campus racism on predominantly white college campuses. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.