IN BLACK FRATERNITIES
John A. Williams
Director, Center for the Study of Pan-Hellenic Issues
wanted to make a case for hazing in Black fraternities, you
have lots of buttons you can push to make a new member accept
being "made right" as the phrase goes. You can appeal
to his manhood, by reminding him that "only the strong
survive". You can appeal to his sense of racial pride
by reminding him that the pressures he is expected to endure
from "the brothers" is nothing compared to what
the "real world" will put on him. And if you wanted
to appeal to his spiritual being, you could challenge him
with Scriptures such as Psalms 66:10-12 :
Thou hast tested us O Lord; Thou hast tried us as silver is
tried. Thou didst bring us into the net, Thou didst lay affliction
on our loins, Thou didst let men ride over our heads. We have
gone through fire and through water; Yet Thou hast brought
us forth to a spacious place"
wanted to make a case for hazing, these are but a few of the
options you have to convince a pledge to accept what they
are being asked to endure before "crossing the sands"
to come into the frat. But there are some questions you have
to ask yourself if you have any sense of history and any sense
of racial pride. How do you explain to him that after slavery
is abolished for over a hundred years, a pledge should submit
to being treated worse by his "brothers" than his
ancestors were by their "masters"? How do you justify
beating a brother into submission with boards, belts, fists
and other instruments to teach him that he is becoming a "man"
by allowing himself to be punished like a child?
is much we do in Black fraternities that we attempt to justify
by saying "it's a Black thing, you wouldn't understand".
But in the final analysis, even the Blackest of us still don't
understand why it is necessary to haze a prospective member
in the name of "making him right".
want a brother to be smarter and tougher so he can succeed
"in the real world" then why don't we make sure
he gets to class on time, refreshed instead of exhausted from
all-night pledge sessions? Have we given in to the racist
views of our oppressors who only judge a Black man's manhood
by the stripes he can endure from the whip and not by the
mental prowess he can display in the classroom? Or is that
just being soft?
the author of "Broken Pledges" and "The
Wrongs of Passage" has said that hazing is for cowards.
I prefer the term punks. If we in Black fraternities reject
that notion, then why do we deny our participation when "all
hell breaks loose" and someone is injured? Why did Michael
Davis' murderers lie and say he had been injured playing football
when they had slapped, hit and body-slammed him into unconsciousness?
Their failure to step up and be Black men when their behavior
was questioned cost Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity $2.25 million
dollars in 1997. And yet that is what it is be Black men?
I don't think so!
Snell was driven to near suicide by the brothers of Omega
Psi Phi at the University of Maryland in 1993 after he had
been beaten with hammers, whips, brushes and broken pieces
of furniture, he landed in the hospital. Joseph's crime was
that he wasn't "Black enough" so some idiot decided
to place a space heater next to his face to make him darker.
That display cost their fraternity nearly $400, 000 in damages.
All in the name of "making a brother right"!
know that undergraduate members of Black fraternities have
pretty much ignored the no-pledge policy for new member intake.
Underground pledging has replaced a system designed to eliminate
hazing and reduce the liability pledging and/or hazing places
on Black fraternities. No one wants to be a paper brother.
No one wants to let someone "skate" into the frat.
No one wants to be accused of being "soft", and
so the madness continues.
is what it takes to be a Black man, then why not be a real
man when the "accident" happens. Don't run around
looking for some story for the other brothers to memorize.
Don't hide behind the shield because you know others in the
frat "have your back". Pick up the phone...no better
yet, get in your car and go to his mother's house and tell
just broke your son's ribs, bloodied his lip, crushed his
skull and kicked his Black a-- until he collapsed in the basement.
He was trying to skate into the frat, you know? And we wasn't
having any of that. But you know something? He went out like
a true brother! He took it like a man!"