Diversity in Black Greek-Letter Organizations: Breaking the Line
As if one dissertation-sized project weren’t enough, I did two. As a side project, Devon R. Goss and I conducted a study of non-Black members of historically Black Greek-Letter organizations, which eventually became Diversity in Black Greek-Letter Organizations: Breaking the Line.
Starting in the early twentieth century and still thriving in the contemporary era, Black Greek-letter organizations (BGLOs) provide social support, networking opportunities, and service for the Black community. Although BGLOs have always been majority-Black organizations, there are small numbers of non-Black individuals who choose to pledge their membership. Diversity in Black Greek-Letter Organizations: Breaking the Line explores the experiences of these non-Black members who have immersed themselves in organizations rich with Black history and culture.
Through in-depth interviews with thirty-four Asian, white, and Latino members, we reveal how and why these individuals come to identify with organizations designed for the uplift of races other than their own. For non-Black BGLO members, the association with a Black organization provides them the opportunity to (re)consider the meaning of racial inequality and their own racial identities.
Although many non-Black BGLO members recount challenges to their membership, the participants in Diversity in Black Greek-Letter Organizations ultimately find a sense of belonging with their Black brothers and sisters. We argue that the boundaries that are crossed and re-created through non-Black membership in BGLOs can provide an example of the challenges and promises of cross-racial interactions as a whole.