Tag Archives: fraternities/sororities

Meanwhile, On TumblR: The Role Of Asian Greeks Today?

By Andrea Plaid

Via binghamton.edu.

Via binghamton.edu.

While I’ve been away adjusting to my new professional position(s) and some intensely lovely life changes, Owner/Editor Latoya Peterson has been so gracious in taking care of the R’s Tumblr. This week, she found a post that, to say the least, is a conversation-starter. From 8asians’ Akrypti on the how Asian fraternities and sororities are failing to live up to their activist history and principles:

The first Asian American fraternity was formed in upstate New York around the time of World War I to combat the racial discrimination that Asian college students faced. Basically, because Asians were excluded from the white people’s clubs, the guys decided to form their own. In the late 40s, a group of Japanese American women in Southern California formed the first Asian American sorority to support one another in the face of anti-Japanese sentiments and racism.

After the murder of Vincent Chin in the 80s, Asian American fraternities and sororities were at the helm of college-level coalitions pushing for federal prosecution of the perpetrators. They organized vigils, raised money, passed out pamphlets to inform people of what happened, back before the days of YouTube, Facebook, and blogs, and led protests.

By the 90s, the idea of starting your own cultural interest Greek (“Asian Greek”) went viral and today there’s a gazillion of them. In the 90s, Asian Greeks led the charge on many campus political fronts. They had the clout to round up crowds of Asian Americans to rally for change. Many of those fraternity brothers and sorority sisters were activists. They challenged white-dominant student associations when minority interests were subjugated. I recall one incident during my stint in college where this happened and the Asian Greeks united in a positive and uplifting way that did bring about change.

So where are the Asian Greeks today?

Are they the superheroes that the Asian community turns to when shit gets racist? Heck no. The Asian Greek voice has been silent in the wake of the last decade’s eyelid pulling, Asian-men-shoot-up-schools stereotyping, racist receipts, abysmal APIA voter turnout, and the other daunting social and civil issues Asian Americans face in 2013. I do not deny that individuals who happen to be affiliated with an Asian fraternity or sorority have contributed, but there has been no national scale mobilization, which these organizations are highly capable of if they’d only give a damn. Re-imaging popular (effeminate) conceptions of Asian masculinity is still unfinished business for APIA activists and I would think Asian fraternities would feel a personal stake in doing more to be positive public Asian male role models.

I do not write this to condemn Asian Greeks. I write this to critique them. There needs to be an active engagement in the politics and social issues that involve Asian Americans. These fraternities and sororities are in the best position to mobilize on a large scale in response to iniquities and offenses against Asians.

::Long whistle::

I’mma leave this here for people to chime in on what Akrypti said. And please check out what and who else are starting conversations on the R’s Tumblr!

The Divine Nine And Transpeeps – A Long Road Of Understanding Still To Travel

by Guest Contributor Monica Roberts, originally published at Transgriot

blacksororityshields

I was checking out the recent story of transman Devin Alston-Smith and the drama that ensued between him and his local Zeta chapter.

It made me recall a March 2007 post I wrote in which I asked the question are the Divine Nine frats and sororities ready to accept qualified transgender people into their ranks.

Judging by some of the negative responses posted in the comment thread of that story, there’s a lot of Trans 101 education that needs to happen with some peeps in the Black Greek Letter Organization (BGLO) world. But before y’all start bumrushing the comment threads assuming I’m going to defend Devin, hear me out first.

I and many of my transsisters and transbrothers have much love, respect, and admiration for the history, traditions and the historic roles that BGLO’s have played in uplifting our race and shaping our communities. I have female family members, female friends and my late godmother who are proud members of their respective historic Black sororities. I look up to them and many of the women in these organizations as role models in terms of my own Black feminine evolution.

But what happened to Devin wasn’t cool, nor is Devin off the hook either. It’s called Zeta Phi Beta SORORITY, Inc. for a reason, and there is the reasonable expectation that if you’re going to pledge ZPB or any sorority you at least be female bodied.

I’m Monday morning quarterbacking here at this point, so I don’t know what Devin’s state of mind was at the time he was asked to pledge or any of the other stuff that went on outside of what’s documented in the article. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, there are hurt feelings and misunderstandings, and ZPB will handle their business as always and sort things out.

But if Devin was contemplating transition, there were two bigger considerations here besides himself, the organization and the transgender community. Continue reading