Playing the Game
If you are sensitive to racial issues, this isn't for you so back out now.
You have been warned so don't get annoyed or hurt after you read this.
Now that I got that out of the way, anyone reading this should watch what pushed me to finally write about this. My friend put a lot of work into this and it spoke volumes to me.
Side note: many of my friends are in this documentary.
I can't say how much this video means to those of us that feel they are living differently beacuse they are a POC (person of color) at a PWI (predominately white institution).
Now onto my perspective on this.
I went a different route than a lot of my friends, I joined a white sorority, my first year at Salisbury University. I've always been too white for the black kids and too black for the white kids which lead to a major identity issue. I've just always felt like an Oreo. This is something that my family reinforced which further caused me to internalize this ideal.
Before I get in depth about my experiences at Salisbury, I want everyone to know the background of my nickname change which happened senior year of high school. My entire family knows me as Nisha but when asked to fill out a practice college application, I was told that it was too ghetto. I thought for weeks about just not having a nickname but my name (Alanisha) shows my color before I walk in the door so no nickname was not an option. I had to go with something considered white so I could play the game, thus Aly was created. I had to make something so that I wasn't outcasted and could ensure that I got a good job. I'm not making this stuff up, studies have shown that a white person with the same credentials as a black person get the job first most of the time. I refused to allow opportunities slip through my fingertips because of my name, something I have no control of.
Now Back to Being in a White Sorority
My choice to join a white sorority was because, at the time, it seemed like a safe space for me. This was way before there was a bright light being shone on the injustices African Americans are facing. Now that I hang out with all of my "black friends" more than my "white friends", I think I made a bad decision on joining. Any "sisters" reading this, don't take offense. I made friends in my sorority and love them more then I can say but being the 1% of black people in a white sorority on a white campus is draining.
For example, when I cut all my hair off, a couple of months after joining, to enjoy my natural hair, I felt like a damn freak show. I would would have sisters that I don't even talk to, come up and touch my hair and say how pretty it was but behind my back it was a different story. They would say things like "why would she cut off her hair because its ugly that way?" or I was asked to straight my hair for events when we were recruiting new members in order to look like the rest of my sisters. I, of course, refused to straighten my hair as it was apart of me to which some people were un happy with.
This isn't only about my hair. Hearing what they say about the black students, who are also my friends, hurt at first and I stayed silent about it but then I decided I had enough. If I was going to be around white people all the time because we were forced to be at events and meetings all the time, I wasn't going to let them think it's okay to say racist things. Some of my sisters got too comfortable and who say the N-word (you know what I'm talking about) in my presence and thought it was okay. I would correct them on site as they dont get to say it because they have a black "sister", one that they don't even talk to most of the time. Sometimes they were drunk and would sing it. White people, that isn't a reason to say it either.
I decided that since I was a member anyway, I would work from within to make the experiences of the black students on campus better. Whenever we would have recruitment activities, I made sure to give flyers out to any person I saw, regardless of color, because I was aware that "sisters" weren't giving them to people that looked just like me. I would make sure that we would go to events like the Multicultural Fest so that they could learn about things outside of our sorority. Things were getting better until people like Tamir Rice and Eric Garner became national news.
I wrote a post a while ago about being in a white sorority and it was very fluffy because that was what I felt when I first joined. Some of the things that I hear from members now is astonishing. It's just overt racism at this point which at times, angers me because my sorority was my safe place. The things that white people say behind closed doors about black people is just shocking but then when they want you to get into a lit (great) party or they want you to braid their hair because its the latest trend, they want to be nice.
Um, nope, not going to fly anymore.
I could write about this for days but I don't want to overwhelm you. I will just say that from all of this I learned how to play the game which I suggest all black individuals to do. You may not have to go the route that I did nut learn the game and learn it early. White people are the most passive aggressive people I know and now I can do it better than most. Being in my shoes means being two different people all at the same time. You know how it is when you have your professional self and your personal self. Imagine having these in addition to your Aly and your Nisha. I'm not saying everyone's experiences are the same as mine but it is something that needs to be discussed because feeling like your less than as an African American in a white sorority is one thing but feeling like you have to fight everyday to be included on a campus that you earned the same right to be on is harder.
Black people are magical and the energy we have to use everyday to prove ourselves could be put to great work somewhere else.