Black Greeks. Just mention the shorthand term for members of black fraternities and sororities, and you'll get a myriad of reactions.
On one side, you have the black folks who think Black Greeks are the best thing since fried met chicken. They enjoy the brotherhood and sisterhood, the stepping, community service, and the pageantry associated with membership.
On the other side, you have black folks who think Black Greeks are useless poseurs, who condone brutal hazing, and who end up being a divisive element instead of a unifying force in the black community.
So who is right? Well, like most things in life, it depends on how you view it. And I invite both sides to view the world of Black Greeks in this daily blog, The Divine Nine.
Hello, my name is Lawrence Ross and I'm the author of The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities The Divine Nine was the first book written about Black Greeks, and for the past ten years, I've lectured on Black Greeks on over 350 college campuses, meeting thousands of students.
In terms of Black Greekdom, I've been a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. for 25 years, being initiated as a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley. I've been a Black Greek my entire adult life and believe me, I've seen it all; the good, the bad, the ugly, and when those three attributes combine to create really really fun times.
But despite writing a book on Black Greeks, I always wanted to write a blog where I could talk about Black Greekdom as I know it. I want to go beyond the stereotypes on all sides, and dig deep, even deeper than within my book.
In writing The Divine Nine blog, don't think I'm just going to give you some dry information about Black Greeks. For one, that's not my personality. I like living on the edge instead of the mediocre middle, and The Divine Nine blog will show that. I won't be afraid to talk about controversial topics like religion, sexuality, and elitism within Black Greek ranks. And I'll profile unconventional Black Greek members, some of whom just may surprise you.
And while I hope to make every blog entry entertaining, I can guarantee you that at some point, no matter which side of the Black Greek spectrum you reside, I will make you mad. And that's a good thing. But first, let me give you a warning.
For supporters of Black Greeks, this won't be a blog where every entry can be summed up by "everything is peachy keen and positive in our world." I'm going to report the fantastic work, the not so fantastic work, and things we should do better.
And for detractors, conversely this won't be "Black Greeks need to die" blog. I love being a Black Greek and wouldn't change it for anything.
But wherever you stand on black fraternities and sororities, I promise you that I will tackle Black Greek subjects with seriousness, humor and, when needed, a bit of absurdity. And you will be entertained. So join me each day on The Divine Nine. You just might enjoy it.
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.