This Saturday, I spent nearly four hours with a group of about 100 women.
Most of them I knew, some of them I'd just met that day, others I met during a get-together the week before. And just two days later, on Martin Luther King Jr.'s observed birthday, I was with these same women yet again. We marched two miles with a group too large to count in honor of Dr. King. These women were my sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., an organization in which I've been a member for nearly 17 years.
We talked about business, our jobs, our kids, our husbands, our pets. Not one person mentioned Spanx. Not one person commented negatively on the sorority T-shirt that I've (obviously) had during all 17 of those years. So it burns me to no end to see these endless posts about how horrible sororities are, and OMG they are such b****es and no one will tell me how to wear my hair or what to wear and I'm soo glad I never joined a sorority anyway.
I got my degree in journalism, so I understand the news cycle. I understand that no one is interested in covering my sorority sisters who wake up early on the weekends to mentor high school students, and are more interested in articles that confuse successful fraternity members with gang members because they don't understand what we call Greek life.
Don't get me wrong — it's clear the now-viral venomous emails from different sorority members to their pledges are appalling. They're wrong. They're not sisterly. But that's not a sorority issue. That's a character issue. I remember being in college. I didn't always do the right thing. I was mean to people. Roommates. Fraternity members. Random people. And yes, sometimes my sorority sisters. It wasn't right. But don't decry an entire sorority or fraternity, actually several organizations with hundreds of thousands of members located across the globe, because of one thing that happened to you that one time at rush. Or even more so, because of something you read that happened to someone else. I also know that hazing is a very real issue that has led to people being seriously hurt, even killed. But hazing doesn't just happen in fraternities. That's not to minimize the Greek hazing that does go on; it's to further prove my point that we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water.
For us Greeks, those letters are important. We don't support actions that portray us inaccurately or in a negative light. Those letters, to me, mean more than 100 years of service to the community. It means that I have a group of sisters, no matter where in the world I may be, with whom I share a common bond. It means that when I pick up a shovel or a piece of trash to help clean up a neighborhood playground, I won't be doing it alone.
So the next time you see someone wearing Greek letters, strike up a conversation with them. Ask them about what their organization is doing to help the community. And I'd venture to guess you'll quickly realize you can't judge an entire sisterhood by one or two viral emails.
And when you decide to come out and help us in that community service, we'll be happy to have you.
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