It’s not for me to say because I neither pledged a sorority nor did I even finish college, but I’ve always found Greek life a strange and an unlikely community to want to join, what with all the hazing, humiliation and other heinous pre-membership behaviors that do nothing to pay homage to what black Greek brothers and sisters claim is a rich, century-old heritage allegedly based on honor, community service and lifelong bonds of friendship.
Since at least the 1990s there have been so many cases of grave and deadly injuries from hazing that pledging the “old way” — beating and paddling — has now gone largely underground to escape increasingly stringent Pan-Hellenic rules of conduct.
Indeed, the National Pan-Hellenic Council began the 1990s by banning hazing and altogether eliminating pledging, enforcing instead kindler, gentler, non-physical interviews and history lessons and tests after Joel Harris at Morehouse College — the alma mater of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. — died in 1989 pledging Alpha Phi Alpha.
Pledging fraternities is now a postmodern form of black-on-black crime. For descendants of slaves in America, it’s beyond ironic that generations privileged enough to go to college would spend their time there whooping each other’s asses in the name of membership to secret societies.
So I am confused why Brian Stewart, an otherwise bright and accomplished 20-year-old at Morgan State University, wanted so badly to pledge Kappa Alpha Psi, one of the nation’s big three infamous black frats (Omega Psi Phi and Alpha Phi Alpha are the other two), each as egregious as the next.
The oldest, Alpha Phi Alpha, began in 1906, and its first chapter was formed that year at Cornell University. In 1995, Cornell permanently expelled the Alphas for a near-death hazing incident.
In 1999, a then-senior and past Alpha Phi Alpha president at Bowie State University told a Washington reporter that pledging had gone so far underground it was akin to gays in the military: “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.”
Which brings us back around to Stewart at Morgan State University who wanted to cross over the line of “the burning sands” into Kappa membership because his pastor and a mentor were both Kappas and it seemed appealing to the former White House page who had excellent grades.
He was certain his “brothers to be” would find him appealing enough for brotherhood.
Stewart, model handsome, is gay and was summarily rejected by the Kappas after his initial interview.
There are countless documented reports from the Kappas, Omegas and the Alphas that previously an “interview” was code for the first beating to weed out the weak and to see who could withstand future marathon paddling sessions, or, “taking and giving wood.”
The Kappas conspired against Stewart, agreeing to give him the impression he’d been fairly vetted but then someone anonymously tipped Stewart the Kappas in question actually shared in texts — the death knell of all dumb asses including but not limited to rapists and bigots who don’t know better than to document and share their bad deeds — they were rejecting Stewart because he’s gay.
Someone in that text flurry even called him a faggot.
Stewart filed a complaint with Morgan State campus officials because, he says, he doesn’t want anyone else to go through what he’s going through.
The Morgan State Kappa chapter is on probation until 2015 and prohibited from having any campuswide presence, including the sponsorship of off-campus events.
Blacks on social media have been particularly vitriolic in their responses to Stewart’s Kappa discrimination.
Some said to “stand in line” behind blacks with his cries of homophobia; others want gays to take their gayness the hell on somewhere and disappear with all that crusading and shoving homosexuality down everyone’s throats. (If that isn’t a gay metaphor, I don’t know what is.)
It’s not surprising these young blacks are homophobic; however, it’s not just their homophobia that’s breathtaking. They’re also mean-spirited and wholly intolerant, at least two things college is supposed to help alleviate.
Blacks don’t jump bitchy on the subject of gay sex solely because they fear gay sex, per se. (Well, the latently homosexual ones do, anyway.) Blacks aren’t, at first blush, homophobic because of fear and fear alone. Blacks dislike and debate the set-aside nature of gay and lesbian rights for the same reasons some whites still get up in arms over affirmative action: because something is being taken away from them.
With blacks and homos, blacks fear a loss of power to a population they’ve been socialized, largely through intolerant church doctrine, the double standards of heterosexual mores and the meaningless brouhaha inherent on black street decrees, to subjugate gays and lesbians all the way to hell.
So, who are these faggot and dyke freaks who’ve been able to successfully steal black shine, pathos and victimization?
Blacks still live so far beneath the underdog we lash out against any other subculture — and you can’t get much more sub- than black and gay — trying to squeeze in where we’re already packed like slaves during the first Middle Passage.
Personally, I enjoyed the way these black folks weighed in on social media about Stewart and the Kappas because social media platforms are largely populated by blowhards, loudmouths, the lonely, narcissistic, bored, stupid, socially awkward and heretofore invisible cowards.
These people, this chorus of the venomous, are the shining legacy of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, institutions begun and built by former slaves, teachers, church congregations and the best black minds of the day.
It’s in the name of history and disappointment that these young blacks through the ether demean and stomp one of their own — a gay black man. It’s a casual and public castration, with Facebook “likes” replacing grainy, garish postcards of public lynchings of black men.
By discriminating against Stewart, the Kappas want him to choose between two of his probably many selves.
I just wish he’d chosen not to even ask to cross the line.
CONTACT KATHY Y. WILSON: firstname.lastname@example.org