Today in post-racial America: University of Alabama sororities won’t let black women pledge

Via Facebook

Tri Delta Via Facebook

Roll Tide! Except if you happen to be a black woman. The University of Alabama’s student paper the Crimson White is reporting that at least four sororities at the school will not allow black students to pledge. The sororities Alpha Gamma Delta, Tri Delta, Chi Omega, and Pi Beta Phi all blocked two qualified black students from pledging this fall, and the school’s paper says it’s because of their skin color and alumni influence over the selection process.

Via The Crimson White:

“Are we really not going to talk about the black girl?”

The question – asked by Alpha Gamma Delta member Melanie Gotz during her chapter’s sorority recruitment – was greeted by silence. The sorority’s active members and a few alumnae gathered in the room to hear the unexpected news that there would be no voting on potential new members that night. The chapter, they were told, had already agreed on which students would be invited back for the next round.

Gotz and several of her sorority sisters, however, were far from satisfied. They wanted to discuss one potential new member in particular.

By any measure, this candidate was what most universities would consider a prime recruit for any organization, sorority or otherwise. She had a 4.3 GPA in high school, was salutatorian of her graduating class and comes from a family with deep roots in local and state public service and a direct link to The University of Alabama.

The recruit, who asked to remain anonymous, seemed like the perfect sorority pledge on paper, yet didn’t receive a bid from any of the 16 Panhellenic sororities during formal recruitment. Gotz and others said they know why: The recruit is black. She and at least one other black woman, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of personal safety, went through formal recruitment this year, but neither was offered a bid.

What in Jim Crow hell? Rejecting qualified black girls who want to be in sororities because they are black is something you would think wouldn’t happen these days. It’s 2013, and the president of the entire United States is black, but these sororities are too “scared” to join the 21st century?

It also should be pointed out that all of the white members who for 50 years kiki’d it up with their sorority sisters seemed to be unaware until now that there were zero black people among them. This is why America can never be post racial. For all the talk about “colorblindness” and people who say things like, “I don’t see race,” there is an implicit denial of white privilege and any real acknowledgement that people of color exist and should be included in activities on campus that aren’t sports.

To be fair, it appears that current members don’t suck as much as the alumnae who are the ones who really seem to have control over the selection process and the denial of black recruits, but seriously all these white women never bothered to look around in their privileged bubble and say to themselves, “Why are there no people of color here?”

Join the Conversation

  • Holly

    “It also should be pointed out that all of the white members who for 50 years kiki’d it up with their sorority sisters seemed to be unaware until now that there were zero black people among them. This is why America can never be post racial. ”
    THANK YOU!! You don’t have to go out and actively DO racist things to be part of the problem. Without taking a good, hard look in the white privilege mirror, you cannot hope to be anything but another part of the problem.

  • Chris

    Wow, that’s pretty shitty. The thing that I wonder is whether there is a strong NPHC presence on that campus and whether that played a role in these women’s decision to black-ball the candidates.

    I can relate to how awkward things get when you have both an NPC/IFC circle and a very much separate NPHC circle at the same campus. During freshmen orientation events at Toledo, the NPC table will have a separate sign-in sheet for black applicants who are more interested in NPHC sorority membership. I watched them say to black candidates “please put your name on our sheet, but you might also be interested in the NPHC sororities who are historically for African-American students.” I believe our NPC sororities have many black members (I’ve met a few of them), but as an observer it still seemed awkward and unnecessary. I think the NPC reps meant well with this, but I’d be uncomfortable being in their shoes.

    IFC didn’t do this for NPHC fraternities. I think we had the idea that if a group wanted to recruit members then they should staff their own table. That or we foresaw how awkward that would be and just said no thanks.

    I don’t like the separation of IFC/NPC from NPHC and wish it didn’t exist, but I love my fraternity and its NIC history so I don’t blame the NPHC groups from keeping true to their respective histories too. I’ve always been a proponent of All-Greek Councils (one council for all GLOs instead of separate IFC/NPC/NPHC), but that’s still not how these groups are organized nationally and the chapters align with their national affiliations.