“You Don’t Look Like a Sorority Girl” – On Greek Life and Being a Woman of Color in a Predominantly White Subculture

A blog reflection written by Women’s Center Staff Member Meagé Clements

 

“You’re in a sorority? You dMeagé Clementson’t look like a sorority girl!”

Since becoming a member of Zeta Sigma Chi Multicultural Sorority Inc., this has become something I’ve grown quite used
to hearing. Intrinsically, I politely answer with, “Yes, I am in a sorority” and disregard the latter
microaggressive statement, while thinking to myself what does a sorority girl look like?

With such encounters occurring more frequently as I approach my one-year anniversary of being in a sorority, I’ve begun to think more about “what a sorority girl looks like.” Specifically, I’ve begun to think about what it means to be a woman of color in what seems to be a predominantly white subculture.

A lot of TV shows and movies portray only one side of Greek life and I suppose this is where a lot of these stereotypes are perpetuated; of course, it also doesn’t help that 99% of the images found on a Google image search of for “sorority girl” are white blondes and brunettes “sorority-squatting” behind their letters. Oh, and don’t get me started on that viral “recruitment” video a sorority at the University of Alabama thought it was a good idea to share.

Students join Greek life for many different reasons but in my experience most people don’t bother to ask about our motivations for joining a Greek organization and instead just make assumptions. We often see people’s experiences in Greek life being boiled down to only negative media attention rather than also seeing their service projects or community involvement. Needless to say, this limited representation does not reflect the true of the diversity of sorority women, and it especially is not representative of the number of women of color who also happen to have gone Greek.

As a member of a multicultural sorority, I can’t help but notice that the increasing diversity in Greek life is not being reflected in the media. There are countless articles online about less-than-inclusive Greek organizations discriminating against people of color, but little coverage regarding the successes of organizations that embrace women of color and diversity.  And because there are so few representations of women of color in sororities in particular, this stereotyping can be even more detrimental.

Being a member of Zeta Sigma Chi Multicultural Sorority Inc. means acceptance and knowing that although my sisters come from different backgrounds, they are accepting of me and all women. A large part of what drew me to this sorority were the vlaues of service and social justice, the diversity of the organization, and the fact that ALL women were accepted regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Although this may sound cliché, my sorority sisters motivate me to be a better me and I’m proud to be part of this community — that’s why I want everyone else to have a chance to see the side of Greek life that I see.  

While I’m not here to convince everyone to go Greek, I’d like people to acknowledge and embrace the diversity of Greek organizations and more of the positive aspects of Greek life.

I am a Black woman, an introvert, a self-proclaimed “awkward Black girl,” and a member of Zeta Sigma Chi Multicultural Sorority Inc., and this is what a sorority girl looks like.

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