Black fraternities are reshaping black culture

Kennedy Brookins

I had never been a supporter of Greek life. Something about the hazing, the dues and the invite-only parties just seemed so insincere to me. That all changed when I was exposed to the black Greek community. Somewhere between the strolling, probates, canes and whistles I witnessed true brotherhood. Black fraternities benefit black culture by helping to redefine what it means to be a man and, because of  this, I will support them in anyway I can.

Black men have been under attack in America for centuries. Racial minorities began to form street gangs in the early 1900s as a way to protect themselves from the many racially charged assaults happening throughout the nation. Eventually, these gangs created an inner city culture that placed power above all else. Through these gangs and the overall violent nature of the neighborhoods that blacks are too often subjected to, black culture has adopted the belief that to reach success you have to fight.

From the establishment of the first black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, historically African-American brotherhoods have worked to reverse this destructive teaching. Instead of guns and battles, chapters across the nation have taught young men that success is achieved through hard work, education and friendship. These organizations have proven to the black community that real men need support; real men need brotherhood.

In his book “Black Greek-letter Organizations in the Twenty-First Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun,” Dr. Gregory Parks writes that the founders of historically black fraternities “envisioned their organizations to be positively deviant not only internally, by way of admission standards and the socializations of members, but also externally, by the goal of being ‘other focused.’”

Giving back to the black community is another defining objective for these fraternities. Whether it’s through helping the homeless, hosting events that raise money for charity, or mentoring black youth, these young men have made their letters something to be proud of.

At the University of Texas at Austin, the Epsilon Iota chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha is continuing the legacy of good work. The chapter’s annual Hope Week began in 1992 in response to a string of racist incidents during Roundup. The week is intended to celebrate diversity and promote unity across campus — two things that are just as vital to our campus now as they were then.

Hope Week started this Monday and will last through April 30th. With fun events like a party with Tejas Club, karaoke night and a pool day at Gregory Gym, the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha have organized a week that can be enjoyed by the entire University. I encourage you all, no matter your race, to join in these celebrations. I encourage you all to stand with us as brothers and sisters.

For the black community, brotherhood isn’t just another bullet point to add to your resume. Brotherhood has been a means of survival for us. Whether you rep the Alphas, Kappas, Omegas or Sigmas, know that I am so proud to have you represent the black community here at UT-Austin. And I am so confident that you will continue to grow into men that black America can look up to.

Brookins is a psychology junior from McKinney. Follow her on Twitter @kenneteaa.