My younger brother called me today. He had noticed that I was posting a lot on Facebook and Twitter about the #BoycottSororitySisters campaign. He said that he had not watched the show and did not plan to watch it. The trailer turned him off, he said. He just wanted to know what my reasons were for wanting the show cancelled.
I honestly was a little stunned at first. I realized that I had not spoken aloud about my motivation and commitment to participate in the social media campaign to have the VH-1 show cancelled. I guess I thought my reasons were obvious and I really believe they are to my brother. But for a moment I was a little tongue-tied. I stuttered just a bit.
“Well, because I am an AKA! I worked hard for my pearls and the organization is precious to me. After all, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is the sorority of Coretta Scott King, Mae Jemison, Rosa Parks, Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou! Members of sororities and fraternities helped shaped who we are as a people in this country! How dare someone denigrate these great sororities.”
After I hung up, I really felt emotional. I thought about my good friends who are members of Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta and Sigma Gamma Rho sororities. We laugh and joke with each other but we have never let our symbols, colors or our behavior divide us. Rather, we understand that we have many things in common like our concern for the physical, spiritual and financial health of our communities, our belief in education as a means to strengthen our communities, and our strong commitment to the work it takes to ensure the future of our communities.
Honestly, I have not watched Sorority Sisters and I don’t plan to watch it. Digging deeper, it has become clear to me that this boycott was more than just about this one show. Real Housewives? Love and Hip Hop? Flavor of Love? Those were shows that I chose not to watch. The reality shows held no interest for me and I mostly ignored them. I was disgusted by their behavior but I felt no real connection to them. I guess it was easy to give little notice to them.
This show was different for me. This show is personal and I do feel a connection. Maybe it is because I feel a shift in us. A shift in how we as black people in America feel about who and how we are. Maybe the protests about police related shootings in Ferguson and elsewhere have ignited a sense that we have been sleeping too long. That we have let too many things ride. Also because the story of Black Greek sororities is my story but Sorority Sisters is not the story of Black Greek sisters at all. I could say that Sorority Sisters is disrespectful and it is. I could say that is demeaning to black women and it is. But more importantly it is a lie. A lie fabricated for cheap thrills and big advertising paydays. It is tearing black women down rather than building us up. It is using the issues and insecurities of a very women to depict a large, diverse population of women.
I joined my sorority because I did, and still do, believe in the goals and standards of the organization. I was impressed, and still am, by the women who were members. Their education, accomplishments and their refusal to abandon those who may have not had the same kinds of opportunities. To have my organization and others portrayed as little more than a backdrop for the antics of reality TV is not something that I can tolerate.
So that is where my motivation comes from. It’s not just about this one show either. It is about drawing a line in the sand. It is about standing up for something that I feel personally connected to. It is about ensuring that America understands that all of us are not for sale.
And another thing. A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Lawrence Ross, started this whole campaign. When asked why in an interview, one statement he made stuck with me. He said something like, “Black men take care of Black Women.” That reminded me that one of the reasons Black Greek organizations were created was because there was no one else for us…but us. As a child of the 60’s, I remember when we got what we needed from each other. We depended on each other. We stuck together and made a difference. That is what sororities and fraternities do.
We deserve better than Sorority Sisters. I really believe that the show will be cancelled soon.