Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


White Sorority Girls win Step Off
February 28, 2010 8:12 AM   Subscribe

An all white-girl Arkansas sorority's win in an Atlanta step competition has started a fiery debate over whether or not white girls should be allowed to win in a traditionally black step competition. Sprite, the sponsor of the show, ended up having to award two first place winners, claiming there was a scoring discrepancy.
posted by mad_little_monkey (166 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's 2010 and we're having a debate over whether a group of people can win a contest because of their race?
posted by xmutex at 8:13 AM on February 28, 2010 [54 favorites]


Can someone explain what a step competition is? The Sprite site is all flash tedium.
posted by intermod at 8:21 AM on February 28, 2010


Come on, give us a chance to dispel the stereotype that white people have no rhythm.
posted by Huck500 at 8:21 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Perhaps this.
posted by intermod at 8:22 AM on February 28, 2010


Step competition, for instance

stepping

Popular among historically black fraternities and sororities (see NPHC)
posted by jckll at 8:23 AM on February 28, 2010


Step dancing is a type of sychronized dance that resembles marching drills.

To be honest, I was more surprised that girls were doing than that whites were. It's usually associated with black frats.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:24 AM on February 28, 2010


Eh, seems like a non-starter to me. Other than we live in a world where everyone gets a trophy just for plying I don't see a problem with this if the second first place winners don't. The bigger controversy would be if Coke was pandering to people that didn't deserve to win, but from the perspective of the team that did win originally they think it's fine as well.

If everyone is happy, then I'm happy some girs got some cash to go to college.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:24 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The most legitimate complaint I've heard is that they co-opted "signature" moves from other sororities, but I don't know enough about that to comment on it. Their performance was terribly impressive, though. You watch them do an amazing drill routine for five minutes, then realize that they're only halfway through.
posted by Alt F4 at 8:25 AM on February 28, 2010


To be honest, I was more surprised that girls were doing than that whites were. It's usually associated with black frats.

Not true. It's heavily associated with black sororities as well.
posted by jckll at 8:26 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


*sighs*

What a tragedy.

Sure, both teams win this year.

You think Sprite is going to sponsor this next year?
posted by effugas at 8:26 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Goddammit! They stole my argument for if USA wins at hockey today.
posted by mannequito at 8:26 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


If white people weren't allowed to co-opt black culture, you'd all still be listening to Stephen Foster.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:28 AM on February 28, 2010 [25 favorites]


A scoring discrepancy which results in two teams tying for first place? That's a new one. Go political correctness!
posted by phaedon at 8:31 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is out of step with the times.

Related: Tracy Morgan on what it is to be black.
posted by geoff. at 8:31 AM on February 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


I'm just going to steal what rcade said in the Sportsfilter thread about this:
It's a shame there's a racial controversy over this. That Arkansas sorority began stepping 16 years ago at the urging of a black sorority for a racial unity event. They've been doing it ever since.
posted by NoMich at 8:33 AM on February 28, 2010 [29 favorites]


According to Stompin' Tom, this sort of dancing started in Newfoundland, so perhaps should award a third first-place prize.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:34 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the bigger question is why are there racially segregated sororities and fraternities?
posted by delmoi at 8:36 AM on February 28, 2010 [32 favorites]


One of Stephen Foster's primary influences was Dan Rice, a blackface performer who performed a mixture of authentic and invented African-American folk songs.

The history of music -- and, to a large extent, popular culture -- in the United States is one of back and forth borrowing, and there is no American musical form untouched by African influence.

If Zeta Tau Alpha took signature moves, that's a fair complaint. But if the complaint is that they're white -- well, either you can step or you can't.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:36 AM on February 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Previously on MeFi. Yes, I was exposed to stepping in middle school in the early 1980s by other girls. Girls' participation isn't new.
posted by Miko at 8:41 AM on February 28, 2010


"white-girl"?
posted by DU at 8:43 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can someone explain what a step competition is?

The second link is a YT video of the winning dance. It's great until the last minute when it gets very WTF?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:43 AM on February 28, 2010


I remember seeing stepping in my HS. It was awesome (and if I remember correctly, racially and gender mixed).
posted by sperose at 8:43 AM on February 28, 2010


intermod: "Can someone explain what a step competition is? "

Good try but we know you saw "Step Up 2: The Streets".

delmoi's on point, though. I question more why they are an all-white sorority than if they should have won. They kicked ass, in the two minutes I watched before I got bored at the stomping and yelling. GET OFF MY LAWN YOU KIDS
posted by graventy at 8:47 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


What Astro Zombie said. This whole idea that only the inventors of an art form can legitmately appreciate/perform it will come as a surprise to all the black jazz pioneers who studied, were inspired by and who lifted ideas from European classical music.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:47 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


i just watched both videos.

i felt that the Zeta team did a lot more movements and seemed to more complex choregraphy.

the 2nd place team definitely had some good moves (especially that thing with their legs up and moving as one, that was awesome!). but i felt they stood still a lot. but that video was also at a bad angle, so i don't think i could see everything.

but hell, i know as much about step as i do figure skating.

it looks like there are basic things that would be part of any step routine.

i'm sorry this turned into a controversey rather than just a friendly competition where the 2nd place team resolves to come up with something more awesome next year, regardless of color.

i can't figure out if the 2nd place team did any complaining or not, tho. i'd like to know what they think.
posted by sio42 at 8:47 AM on February 28, 2010


The military-themed S1W led by Professor Griff incorporated step dancing into PUBLIC ENEMY live performances

I haven't seen Spike Lee's "SCHOOL DAZE" in probably 20 years but I'm pretty sure there's some step dancing.
posted by Hammond Rye at 8:53 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the bigger question is why are there racially segregated sororities and fraternities?

Because the groups making up the National Pan-Hellenic Council (aka the Divine Nine) are historically black fraternities and sororities that developed out of the segregation of the late 19th and early-to-mid 20th century, kind of like the HBCU system.

Neither the "white" fraternities and sororities nor the "black" ones are now officially segregated and people of all races can pledge any fraternity/sorority; if they don't, it's not because they are not permitted to.
posted by sallybrown at 8:55 AM on February 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I question more why they are an all-white sorority...

Because majority-$RACE organizations tend to (actively or passively) discourage members of other races from joining. I can only assume many black girls will think "well why the hell would I want to join a practically-all-white sorority?" And that eventually takes the sorority from mostly-white to all-white. It's a lot harder to find someone to fight for this as a civil rights issue when the reward is getting to enter a volunteer organization where the prejudice against you is bad enough to have made it all-white in the first place.
posted by griphus at 8:55 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


A piece from 2007 on stepping at the University of Arkansas.
posted by jedicus at 8:58 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Good try but we know you saw "Step Up 2: The Streets".

I had to learn it from Fresh Prince.
I didn't grow up in a place chockful of African-American culture. West-central Manitoba, born and raised, in a pasture is where I spent most of my days...
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:00 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


The AP article lays the entirety of the "fiery debate" on YouTube comments. Not exactly a compelling case.
posted by camcgee at 9:03 AM on February 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


What series of letters is it in the comments (from the 'fiery debate' link) that gets starred out?
"They still OWNED everyone from their skill, to their c*****o, to their originality",

Im not sure why it starred me out when i said c*****ography…

ok so instead of the word that keeps getting starred i;ll say their routine even though the word i typed means the same thing and isnt a curse word…
See also: c*****ographer, parti*****nts, C*****OGRAPHED, *****s, parti*****te, and *****ody.
posted by tellurian at 9:04 AM on February 28, 2010


Was there that much of an uproar? Because the linked AP story rests its allegation of a firestorm on YouTube commenters. If there's an uproar every time some YouTube commenter decides to use three exclamation points, then there's probably an uproar going on somewhere over whether Gargamel's hatred of the Smurfs is an offensive comment on the Civil War.

Everybody else who comments in the story who doesn't have to be identified by a YouTube handle seems to think this is a total non-issue.
posted by FrozenTundra at 9:04 AM on February 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


According to Stompin' Tom, this sort of dancing started in Newfoundland

Well, it's hard to say. A lot of European cultures have step dances -- my people, the Irish, about as famously as anybody, and American tap dancing borrowed from all of them. But stepping has two clear antecedents -- military lockstep marching and Gumboot dancing, the latter coming explicitly from Africa.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:08 AM on February 28, 2010


White Girl,
Market at Van Ness Oakland and Douglas,
Heels to drag,
Discombobulated.
Air all soft around,
Hear the man singing,
Inclines and wires,
Telegraph North Storer Avenue.

Look away and she's eastbound steppin', out of sight.

Dropped here,
By the hand of the Astronaut,
Builder of the pyramids,
The man from outer space.
Innocent farmgirl,
Raised by the aliens,
Out in Northridge Arkansas,
Out in the larger world.

Look away and she's eastbound steppin', out of sight
posted by davejay at 9:10 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


What series of letters is it in the comments (from the 'fiery debate' link) that gets starred out?

"hore" because people can't spell.
"cipa" which may be slang for genitals if you believe urbandictionary.

The real question is what poor programmers write a censoring thing that censors stuff in the middle of a word.
posted by smackfu at 9:10 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hammond Rye: "The military-themed S1W led by Professor Griff incorporated step dancing into PUBLIC ENEMY live performances"

Obligatory:

With recruitment down sharply, and the prospect of being held back by the nation of millions appearing once again likely, top-ranking Public Enemy officials issued an order Monday for all retired Security Of The First World personnel to return to active duty. ...

"I am proud of my service to Public Enemy," said retired S1W Roger Chillous, 41. "I was right there in the front of the stage for the First London Invasion tour of duty right before I retired. But I can no longer effortlessly execute the complex choreographed maneuvers that were once required of me. I wasn't called up for the East Coast–West Coast conflict, so I don't understand why I was for this."

posted by Joe Beese at 9:11 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Vanilla Ice stole chants (e.g., 'Ice Ice Baby') and dance steps from Alpha Phi Alpha.
posted by box at 9:18 AM on February 28, 2010


I think the bigger question is why are there racially segregated sororities and fraternities?

FTFY
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:19 AM on February 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


I watched both videos too, and I think the Zetas got it. It would be helpful to know what the scoring was based on though, because how can we know who did the better job if we don't even know what precisely was being judged, to be able to judge that ourselves?

I agree that it is kind of funny that as soon as there is money involved and it is being televised on MTV, that a white group is involved and wins. But perhaps the Zetas were involved in prior national step events in recent previous years.

But unfair outcomes on MTV and in national talent competitions are seriously easy to find, and the vast majority of the time it is the white or lighter skinned person who is on the receiving end of the good fortune, so wah. It's about time white people got shafted in these cases. The Zetas don't seem all that upset to share the title, and good on them for appearing to handle it so well.

Ever see that stupid MTV show "The Wade Robson Project"? Dance competition with the finalists a guy named Tyler who was o-kay, and a dude named Steven whose nickname is "Twitch" (he later appeared on tv on another dance show). Twitch was doing backflips and incredible routines, while most of Tyler's appeal was apparently that he was white and didn't dance like Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Seinfeld. Guess who won? Tyler. Haven't seen a thing from him since.

MTV had a freestyle MC contest with audience voting. The less talented, lighter-skinned guy won - Wreckonize (who I actually like, but he should have taken the L that Saturday).

The audience was feeling the Zetas. It's not unlike Showtime at the Apollo when some frumpy Susan Boylesque person gets up there and the audience is ready to boo, and BAM. But the Zetas came through with it. Their routine did not have the snap of the AKA's, but what they lacked in looking like they were going through the motions, they made up in the structure of the routine. Even if they borrowed moves, I'd still say they did a good job of remembering and executing a long, complex routine.

I'll also agree with one poster in saying neither finalist was all that mind-blowing and I've seen better step routines by far, though I think the ones I remember were dudes.

All that said, good for the Zetas, and things like this need to happen for the social conventions to change and as more opportunity structures open up and lead black people in different and broader directions. It reminds me of the influx of foreign born players into the NBA and how more and more young black men can grow up thinking about what steps to take to be the president or an executive as a result. Some people may be pissed now, but the less areas are cordoned off for blacks to be expected to perform in, the easier it is to do something different, something new, and create the future.
posted by cashman at 9:24 AM on February 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


My traditionally biased opinion, no the white girls should not have been permitted to participate in the traditionally black event.

WTF? That's like saying Tiger Woods should not have been permitted to play golf at all-white country clubs. We do not need more exclusionary policies, we need less.
posted by misha at 9:30 AM on February 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I call bullshit and Sprite Blue. There's absolutely no way that there are all-white and all-black frats and sororities in 2010.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:32 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I think the bigger question is why are there racially segregated sororities and fraternities?"

Because in NAACP v. Alabama (1958) the US Supreme Court determined that the right of people to freely associate with each other is constitutionally protected, and people being as they are tend to associate with people like themselves.
posted by fydfyd at 9:33 AM on February 28, 2010


The AP article lays the entirety of the "fiery debate" on YouTube comments. Not exactly a compelling case.

Yeah, I never thought I'd see the AP writing "wrote one commenter posting under the name "titetowers". But yeah, when it's Bossip and there are only a couple dozen comments after a week, and a bunch of those are typo/edit issues, not really that much of a controversy. Plus a lot of the people who comment at sites like that (SandraR/NecoleBitchie/Crunktastical, etc) are dumber than YouTube commenters anyway. I used to read a bunch of those sites when they first got started.

I think the bigger question is why are there racially segregated sororities and fraternities?

I agree and think they're stupid. But now I'm starting to wonder if it isn't a way to mimic and therefore cope with "networking" and the old boys club. I still think its ridiculous and unnecessary.
posted by cashman at 9:34 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's absolutely no way that there are all-white and all-black frats and sororities in 2010.

You know, I don't actually have any proof of your statement, but if years of my former classmates' Facebook photos are anything, there are definitely all-Asian frats and sororities. So, why wouldn't there be all-white and all-black ones?
posted by griphus at 9:35 AM on February 28, 2010


I also question how big an uproar this is. I'm not well versed in all the different organizations that present step dance, but it seems to me there is a shit-ton of them, and they present competitions all over the place all the time. When I was at Rutgers it seemed like there was one every other weekend. Many of the teams were racially integrated, so I don't recall a sense among anyone that white people "couldn't" step. This may be a tempest in a teapot, not something rocking the stepping world.
posted by Miko at 9:35 AM on February 28, 2010


There's absolutely no way that there are all-white and all-black frats and sororities in 2010.

Yeah, that's nutty. There are traditionally and historically black (and white, etc) sororities and fraternities. Since many of them are on HBCU campuses, it's quite possible, probably likely, that a lot of the local chapters happen to contain no white people.
posted by Miko at 9:37 AM on February 28, 2010


Related: Tracy Morgan on what it is to be black.

Thanks for posting this. Seen it before but this whole mess was bumming me out and this cheered me up right away. Tracy Morgan is hilarious... nobody improvs like he does.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:37 AM on February 28, 2010


Historically Black Sororities and Fraternities
posted by Miko at 9:37 AM on February 28, 2010


According to Stompin' Tom, this sort of dancing started in Newfoundland

I'm willing to bet it arose spontaneously when any population equipped with footwear encountered a resonant surface. And alcohol.
posted by hangashore at 9:37 AM on February 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


misha: WTF? That's like saying Tiger Woods should not have been permitted to play golf at all-white country clubs. We do not need more exclusionary policies, we need less.

No exclusion. And also not a valid analogy, no strawman here plz.
You want to have a race-free competition? Make one. But don't step on the toes of an established institution, take it to court (that's what it's for) so the whole country can decide.
posted by Clementines4ever at 9:40 AM on February 28, 2010


My traditionally biased opinion, no the white girls should not have been permitted to participate in the traditionally black event.

WTF? That's like saying Tiger Woods should not have been permitted to play golf at all-white country clubs. We do not need more exclusionary policies, we need less.


Yes, in one sense it is. In another sense, it's as if black golfers were barred from the PGA, and so they formed the BPGA and held their own tournaments and developed some new styles of play, and decades later some young white golfers thought the BPGA's driving or putting style was really awesome and decided to go play at at BPGA tournament and they won it.

I absolutely agree that barring ZTA from attending or winning the step-off would be wrong, but it shouldn't be that hard for people to understand why there were some emotional reactions of uncomfort or unfairness, whether because this tradition is closely tied to the days of official segregation, or because there's a perception that white people competing in traditionally black events win more often than they should, or for some other reason. Not that those reactions are right or great, but that it should be easy to see why people might feel that way.
posted by sallybrown at 9:44 AM on February 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Was there that much of an uproar?

If there's racism and nobody complains, that's worse, not better.
posted by Phanx at 9:44 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


"hore" because people can't spell.
"cipa" which may be slang for genitals if you believe urbandictionary.

Good grief.
posted by tellurian at 9:44 AM on February 28, 2010


You want to have a race-free competition? Make one. But don't step on the toes of an established institution, take it to court (that's what it's for) so the whole country can decide.

I think I speak for many of us when I ask, what the shit are you talking about?
posted by silby at 9:46 AM on February 28, 2010 [24 favorites]


smackfu: "The real question is what poor programmers write a censoring thing that censors stuff in the middle of a word."

I assume they're trying to avoid creative swear combos inspired by motherfucker. Poorly.
posted by graventy at 9:47 AM on February 28, 2010


silby: I think I speak for many of us when I ask, what the shit are you talking about?

I think the many that you claim to speak for will gladly answer your question, respectfully.
posted by Clementines4ever at 9:52 AM on February 28, 2010


I'm so sad that this is even an issue.

The idea that any art form should be "owned" by one race or another is regressive, racist and -- worst of all -- anti-art. Art only grows from being performed/made by more people.
posted by jb at 9:55 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


You want to have a race-free competition? Make one. But don't step on the toes of an established institution, take it to court (that's what it's for) so the whole country can decide.

From my understanding, stepping started in black fraternities and it wasn't until later that sororities started to do it. Should we likewise make the case that there should be no women allowed in stepping competitions?

Additionally, if you take a look at the video that jedicus posted, black fraternities and sororities have been actively teaching stepping routines to white fraternities and sororities for a while. It's not as though the young ladies of Zeta Tau Alpha just showed up to this competition with a bunch of stolen moves, bullied their way in, and then stole the prize. In fact, the sorority explains their involvement in stepping on their Web site: They've been ding it for 15 years, invited and encouraged by the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at their school. Who is, as I understand it, the sorority they will be sharing their title with.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:56 AM on February 28, 2010 [5 favorites]



I think the many that you claim to speak for will gladly answer your question, respectfully.


Well, silby speaks for me.

What are you talking about?
posted by orville sash at 9:57 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand what Clementine is trying to say either. Please clarify.
posted by jb at 9:57 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hammond Rye: I haven't seen Spike Lee's "SCHOOL DAZE" in probably 20 years but I'm pretty sure there's some step dancing.

Indeed there is. I think that was the first exposure to Stepping for people of my generation (GenX). Well, people of my generation who went to Spike Lee movies. School Daze is a kind of Cliff's Notes to black culture, skin tone, hair, stepping, traditionally black college, activism. There's even a "Breaking Away" type sequence between the non-frat kids and "townie" men. Oh, and there's a bunch of musical sequences too. It's definitely a movie you could write a thesis about. (It's available on instant watch on Netflix -- you can see the stepping sequence at 1:14:00).
posted by artlung at 9:58 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thread needs some Vicky Pollard.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:01 AM on February 28, 2010


I think we all know how the white group won. Tricknology. Plain and simple.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:03 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm so sad that this is even an issue.

The idea that any art form should be "owned" by one race or another is regressive, racist and -- worst of all -- anti-art. Art only grows from being performed/made by more people.


I don't think anybody wants to own stepping. I think people have a contest they feel is fair in their eyes, and that if it isn't fair, it won't be because judges (or whomever) looked at the person's blackness and decided the other participant should win. That has been happening for years and years. It is annoying. So you have this thing you can go to and get a fair shake, and now look what happens. I recall Jesse Jackson saying in an interview that one reason black people like sports is because there are distinct rules and established boundaries presumably you'd get a fair shake.

That's where the "ownership" upset comes from, in my opinion. It's not strictly because white people are doing it - it's the extension to it becoming mainstream and thereby becoming yet another contest where being white gives you a leg up.
posted by cashman at 10:05 AM on February 28, 2010


I can only assume many black girls will think "well why the hell would I want to join a practically-all-white sorority?"

Interestingly, I remember a post we had a few years ago about approaching racism with mathematical simulations. One of the more interesting results was a simulation of a bunch of square 'dots', in two colors. Each dot 'lived' in a square on a grid, and each 'turn' it would evaluate its 'living conditions'. If it wasn't happy, it would attempt to swap position with another unhappy dot elsewhere on the grid.

They did a bunch of different things with this, but the one that really stuck with me was this criterion: at least one neighbor of the same color. Dots didn't care if they were surrounded by three opposite-color dots, as long as they had one same-color dot as a neighbor. So they were just barely colorist, only just a touch.

Well, when you looked at the results of the simulation runs, you ended up with all the red dots on one side, and all the blue dots on the other. They segregated themselves almost totally, based on only a very slight color preference. And anyone looking at that grid would say, "wow, those dots are some racist little bastards", but they really weren't. And I couldn't help but wonder, if dots were self-aware, if their preference for not mixing with the other color would become ingrained and self-perpetuating.

So, it wouldn't shock me at all if the sororities ended up being almost pure white or pure black, even if the individual girls involved aren't that racist. If they're even a little bit sensitive to skin color, they might end up arranging themselves in ways that look like they can't bear living together.
posted by Malor at 10:06 AM on February 28, 2010 [29 favorites]


Look, clearly y'all have never been to a step show. Most people who watch step have no clue what those judges are looking for and I only have a limited idea. To be honest its very rare that the people the audience thinks should have won do. Most of these competitions are rife with rumors of favoritism with no non-Panhellenic frats involved . I can tell you for sure those two guys in blue on the sprite website can tell you a few times when they lost when a lot of people thought they should have won. But I think the inching that one of those ZTA's did in the middle of the formation when she was not leading off the next step would be a problem. They damn sure did come hard though. Next year folks are on notice.

P.S. The guy on the right on the website, the Ace of his line is Vietnamese and one of my best friends and he can step way better than I can.
posted by Rubbstone at 10:09 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


2 silby et al.

This is on par with the black lady who was axed (yes I'm bad like that) to stop patronizing an Asian restaurant because she didn't tip enough.

Here, the issue is simple, the sorority has rules, if you don't like the rules, change them. Don't violate them.
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:09 AM on February 28, 2010


Here, the issue is simple, the sorority has rules, if you don't like the rules, change them. Don't violate them.

I guess I'm not clear on what sorority you're talking about, and what rules.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:11 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


To be honest its very rare that the people the audience thinks should have won do

I can certainly vouch for that. It's not always showmanship/style that takes the prize - the judges are often looking at precision, snap, neatness, more finesse-y stuff, and meanwhile the audience responds to the choice of music, the percussive volume, the look, etc.
posted by Miko at 10:14 AM on February 28, 2010


Isn't this similar to the plot for Bring It On?
posted by smackfu at 10:14 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


axed (yes I'm bad like that)

Bad like what? I don't get this.
posted by Miko at 10:14 AM on February 28, 2010


Brr, it's cold in here! It must be the backpacks in the at-mos-sphere!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:15 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


misha: WTF? That's like saying Tiger Woods should not have been permitted to play golf at all-white country clubs. We do not need more exclusionary policies, we need less.

Clementines4Ever: No exclusion. And also not a valid analogy, no strawman here plz. You want to have a race-free competition? Make one. But don't step on the toes of an established institution, take it to court (that's what it's for) so the whole country can decide.


Well, I disagree that mine is "not a valid analogy."

And I'm sorry, but I'm with those that don't understand what you are saying. There shouldn't be any exclusions, but there should not be a race-free competition unless someone goes to court? Please explain.
posted by misha at 10:16 AM on February 28, 2010


On preview, I see that you answered, but I'm still foggy on your reasoning.
posted by misha at 10:17 AM on February 28, 2010


2Potomac: lol, we need some levity when you're one against 50 on two threads, and still have the point made on both.
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:17 AM on February 28, 2010


misha: sure, upgrade the staus-quo, but do it in a civilized manner. Civil discourse? No problem. Manipulating others' emotions? Not so nice.

(I'm not talking about you, I'm talking about the media in this case)
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:19 AM on February 28, 2010


I can hardly wait for so-called "race" to no longer matter. WTF, melatonin?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:20 AM on February 28, 2010


The idea of an all-white sorority in Arkansas, to me, seems really weird. They can't recruit a single black member? They can't even get an Asian or Latina girl to join? What are they doing that makes them so unappealing of a crowd to hang out with that not a single minority woman on campus wants to have anything to do with them?
posted by anniecat at 10:22 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


My traditionally biased opinion, no the white girls should not have been permitted to participate in the traditionally black event.

I agree that it is kind of funny that as soon as there is money involved and it is being televised on MTV, that a white group is involved and wins. But perhaps the Zetas were involved in prior national step events in recent previous years.

Um, does anyone read the comments before posting ?

I'm just going to steal what rcade said in the Sportsfilter thread about this:
It's a shame there's a racial controversy over this. That Arkansas sorority began stepping 16 years ago at the urging of a black sorority for a racial unity event. They've been doing it ever since.

posted by oneirodynia at 10:24 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Clementine's point is that she/he says "axe" rather than ask. I think the conclusion we're supposed to draw from that is that s/he is black. Therefore the point s/he/etc is trying to make is that black culture needs to defend itself against appropriation by banning groups from joining step contest that are not from historically black institutions. He is ignoring the fact that this is a contest of skill rather than a cultural exhibition, open to all who are capable of joining and beating multiple rounds of tournament over the course of several months.

As pointed out upthread, this is not a cut-and-dry issue of discrimination one way or the other because of the subjectivity of dance competitions. Without knowing anything about the judges and the methods of judging, how can Clementine say that this was somehow less than objective, but also how could others claim that it was? Clearly Sprite decided that it was suspect enough to not want to risk the PR disaster of being accused of rigging it.

Black VS White, as a concept, is diminishing as a cultural signifier. Perhaps eventually it will be no more limiting than German V Irish. This is good, and this is bad, but this is happening.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:25 AM on February 28, 2010


The idea of an all-white sorority in Arkansas, to me, seems really weird. They can't recruit a single black member? They can't even get an Asian or Latina girl to join? What are they doing that makes them so unappealing of a crowd to hang out with that not a single minority woman on campus wants to have anything to do with them?

I know, it's super weird. You'd almost think this sort of unofficial self-segregation was happening in mainstream society, too. Oh wait...
posted by sallybrown at 10:25 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clementines: nope...you still make very, very little sense to me. The last statement is pretty much in context, but I'm still reeling from take it to court (that's what it's for) so the whole country can decide. What?!?
posted by nosila at 10:27 AM on February 28, 2010


Out of curiosity, when did white Americans start banding together as a collective group regardless of where their ancestors came from? I was reading Tree Grows in Brooklyn and it sounds like Italians and Irish and Germans and all these different whites were actually having a lot of problems with each other in the beginning, with people moving out of neighborhoods because all the Italians were moving in and all the WASPy types felt Italians were too ethnic and ruining the neighborhood.
posted by anniecat at 10:28 AM on February 28, 2010


I see now that Obama should really have been made to share the Presidency with whoever it was that came second.
posted by Phanx at 10:29 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


oneirodynia:

Please do not mix my comments with others, thanks.

For the rest, I am not black, nor am I a woman.
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:30 AM on February 28, 2010


Zeta Tau Alpha is not an all-white sorority. They're historically and predominantly white, but if you search the Web for photos of chapters of the sorority, you'll see plenty of African-Americans and Asians and other non-whites. The "all white" description comes from the fact that this particular step crew was all white.

Let's put that misconception to bed right now.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:30 AM on February 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


I know, it's super weird. You'd almost think this sort of unofficial self-segregation was happening in mainstream society, too. Oh wait...

The university landscape is hardly a microcosm of typical society in general (which in Arkansas is probably pretty low income and not educationally superior), though maybe University of Arkansas is a hypersegregated place. We all know society is all pretty segregated in general and I'm not surprised at Arkansas, though I am surprised in a way because I would have expected that it would be somewhat integrated at the university level. Though when we were talking about the Psi Phis or whatever at Cornell, it looked like they had a couple of Asian and Latina girls (as well as a girl who was South Asian) on board. They didn't have any black members at all.
posted by anniecat at 10:34 AM on February 28, 2010


Please do not mix my comments with others, thanks.

Metafilter should pass some kind of law to prevent the possibility of comment miscegenation.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:35 AM on February 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


oneirodynia:

Please do not mix my comments with others, thanks.

For the rest, I am not black, nor am I a woman.


It's not "mixed". It's two separate comments. I'm not going to write multiple comments to address more than one poster when the point I'm making regards them both. Sorry, but redundant formatting is something I try to avoid. If my question was unclear, I'll happily rephrase it now:

This sorority has been participating in step events for over a decade, at the urging of an African American sorority. Why do you think that white women shouldn't now participate in something that black sororities invited them to in 1994?
posted by oneirodynia at 10:41 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


If there's racism and nobody complains, that's worse, not better.

You will be relieved to know that we agree on this.

Again, my point is that there's supposedly this firestorm of controversy over the fact that a white team won, but in the AP article, the controversy consists of angry comments by anonymous YouTube commenters. Based on the description, I expected to hear that other step teams, or other colleges, or other sororities, or somebody whose opinion anyone would ever have any reason to take seriously, was arguing that there was something wrong with the team that won. Furthermore, I was expecting to see something that would make it seem plausible that this "controversy" was significant enough to possibly have led to a changing of the results by Sprite as the FPP seems (to me) to suggest.

Where is the racism, other than from a handful of Internet commenters? Frankly, YouTube comments are one of the most notoriously flung-poo-decorated parts of the entire Internet, and offensive YouTube comments are, sadly, not a news story by themselves that seems to me to justify an AP story or the suggestion that Sprite bowed to some kind of credible public outcry.
posted by FrozenTundra at 10:42 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The university landscape is hardly a microcosm...

I apologize, I was being snarky because Malor provided a good answer to your question a while before you asked it, and you didn't seem to have read carefully.
posted by sallybrown at 10:42 AM on February 28, 2010


For years public high schools in my area have had step teams. There is no gender or racial requirement for trying out. The teams perform at school events, and go to competitions. The demographic of the school district determines the demographic of the step team. Assuming some of these students participated in step team in high school, I can't imagine they would find all whatever teams so unusual. It really seems the fuss is coming from the media and the old folks. Yes, history and context is important, but what Potomac Avenue said. This is happening.
posted by rainbaby at 10:45 AM on February 28, 2010



I can certainly vouch for that. It's not always showmanship/style that takes the prize - the judges are often looking at precision, snap, neatness, more finesse-y stuff, and meanwhile the audience responds to the choice of music, the percussive volume, the look, etc.


Were all of your blades held at the same height? Were your wrists bent? How well did you maintain your formation? ad nauseum
posted by Rubbstone at 10:50 AM on February 28, 2010


oneirodynia: This sorority has been participating in step events for over a decade, at the urging of an African American sorority. Why do you think that white women shouldn't now participate in something that black sororities invited them to in 1994?

Because if there was no issue in 1994, why is there an issue now?
posted by Clementines4ever at 10:52 AM on February 28, 2010


anniecat : The idea of an all-white sorority in Arkansas, to me, seems really weird. They can't recruit a single black member?

Okay, my sheltered liberal MeFi friends, time for the lesson of the day...

Most segregation occurs voluntarily, unofficially enforced by both sides. Vaishyas don't mix with Dalits, Alphas don't hang out with Betas, the rich don't rub elbows with the poor, Haoles don't hang out with Hawaiians, Jews don't marry Goyim, Republicans don't hang out with Democrats, and, even in this modern enlightened era of tolerance and brotherly love, blacks don't hang out with whites.

And yes, feel free to shoot this full of holes with counter-examples "But but but, I have a Republican friend! I even know a few Libertarians!". Largely, though, this amounts to a matter of shared interests, and when they overlap considerably (and neither group has the upper hand by a significant margin, a key point), such self-imposed segregation breaks down.

Whether or not this counts as "discrimination" depends largely on the penalties for not complying with existing social exclusions, as well as on the aforementioned "who has the upper hand".

In the situation from TFA, I will comfortably say "shame on you, Coke, but thanks for the money anyway". Denying the outright win to the white team counts as nothing short of the worst kind of discrimination, and don't give us any "scoring irregularities" BS.
posted by pla at 10:54 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay, my sheltered liberal MeFi friends, time for the lesson of the day...

It may be possible to make this same point without sounding like your condescending, especially when I already made the point that the sorority is not, in fact, all white.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:56 AM on February 28, 2010


you're, rather.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:57 AM on February 28, 2010


That's where the "ownership" upset comes from, in my opinion. It's not strictly because white people are doing it - it's the extension to it becoming mainstream and thereby becoming yet another contest where being white gives you a leg up.

This is an interesting comment. I can see why certain groups might be interested in keeping their cultural heritage unadulterated (the Haka is a prime example), and I can see why white privilege might be an issue, but I am failing to see why it is an issue in this case - were all the judges white? Are they culturally biased for some reason? Would there have been such a question if the Sorority that won was primarily Latino?

It strikes me, if you're basing your discontent purely on race, without any historical or cultural precedent, and you are also partaking of the global free for all we call the 21st century, then sometimes the result will not be to your choosing. Surely it's the judgement that needs to be called into question, rather than the teams.
posted by Sparx at 11:02 AM on February 28, 2010


Race: Both sides* of the issue want it both ways.

Side A wants to join an organization because it looks like it is cool to be a part of it. Side B says "No, this is only for us."

Side B says "Hey, that club looks cool, we want to join" and Side A responds, "No, that is for us only."

OOPS!
This is NOT how it works. This suddenly becomes a racial problem. It doesn't matter what groups we are dealing with. White - black. Green - red. Nazi - Jew.

Both side A and B want their separate but equal organizations. But if someone from the other group tries to work their way in, it is a racial problem.

Here is the key: You CANNOT have it BOTH ways and NOT have it BOTH WAYS AT THE SAME TIME!!!

* OK, OK, there are really more than two sides to the race issue. There are more than two "races". But it usually boils down to an "us" and "them" discussion.
posted by Drasher at 11:02 AM on February 28, 2010


Also - in terms of prior art: three samoan slap dances
If this tells us anything, Culturally, it's that it is important to have a sense of humour.
posted by Sparx at 11:29 AM on February 28, 2010


Sometimes I Doubt Your Commitment to Sparkle Motion
posted by pianomover at 11:31 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Woah, drasher - that's kind of timecube-esque. Perhaps your argument can withstand a lack of bold, italic and underline...
posted by Sparx at 11:35 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because if there was no issue in 1994, why is there an issue now?

Because now they're good enough to win?

Wait, no. What? Your answer doesn't even make sense. oneirodynia asked: "Why do you think that white women shouldn't now participate in something that black sororities invited them to in 1994?" Your answer only makes sense if you take the "Because" out, and you're agreeing that ZTA should be allowed to participate. Is that what you mean?
posted by hades at 11:37 AM on February 28, 2010


It doesn't matter what groups we are dealing with. White - black. Green - red. Nazi - Jew. [...] Both side A and B want their separate but equal organizations.

I really don't think this is what Nazism was about.
posted by stammer at 11:38 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can hardly wait for so-called "race" to no longer matter. WTF, melatonin?

You want everyone to be too sleepy to notice race?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:38 AM on February 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


You want everyone to be too sleepy to notice race?
Sure
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 11:49 AM on February 28, 2010


I'm pretty sure the Nazis were not interested in joining Jewish organizations.
posted by rtha at 11:50 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


hades: Because now they're good enough to win?

Wait, no. What? Your answer doesn't even make sense. oneirodynia asked: "Why do you think that white women shouldn't now participate in something that black sororities invited them to in 1994?" Your answer only makes sense if you take the "Because" out, and you're agreeing that ZTA should be allowed to participate. Is that what you mean?


No, I mean, if you're going to bring up 1994, how is that relevant to 2010? Get it?
posted by Clementines4ever at 11:50 AM on February 28, 2010


ESPECIALLY, if there was no issue then.
posted by Clementines4ever at 11:50 AM on February 28, 2010


I BLAME COCA-COLA!!!
posted by swift at 11:53 AM on February 28, 2010


It would be useful to know how long the Sprite competition has been going on, and whether it's had time to build up trust within the community - otherwise, basically we have a perfect example of how white supremacy hurts white folks too- because of the long ongoing history of media favoring white folks, it'll be impossible to know if they won because of their ability or because of bias.

And naturally, with Sprite using this primarily as an advertising/outreach program, they're more worried about profit and PR than any actual commitment to the art itself.
posted by yeloson at 12:06 PM on February 28, 2010


No, I mean, if you're going to bring up 1994, how is that relevant to 2010? Get it?

You: My traditionally biased opinion, no the white girls should not have been permitted to participate in the traditionally black event.

oneirodynia: This sorority has been participating in step events for over a decade, at the urging of an African American sorority. Why do you think that white women shouldn't now participate in something that black sororities invited them to in 1994?

You: Because if there was no issue in 1994, why is there an issue now?

Dude. You're the one who brought up "tradition". You're the one saying ZTA shouldn't be allowed to compete without taking it to the courts, because of history. How are the historical facts your argument is based on more relevant than the historical facts oneirodynia's using?

I mean, I get that you enjoy being thought of as a troll, but could you at least be clever about it?
posted by hades at 12:08 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clementines4ever, is it possible that English is not your native language? I (and several others, it seems) am having difficulty parsing your comments.
posted by chiababe at 12:08 PM on February 28, 2010


The idea of an all-white sorority in Arkansas, to me, seems really weird. They can't recruit a single black member? They can't even get an Asian or Latina girl to join? What are they doing that makes them so unappealing of a crowd to hang out with that not a single minority woman on campus wants to have anything to do with them?
posted by anniecat at 10:22 AM on February 28


Would you apply this same reasoning to all-black sororities/fraternities? It seems like you've made a few assumptions here that may or may not actually apply.
posted by the other side at 12:12 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Um, does anyone read the comments before posting ?

What were the results of previous years' national contests? Where did the zetas place in 2000-2009 in national competitions?
posted by cashman at 12:12 PM on February 28, 2010



The military-themed S1W led by Professor Griff incorporated step dancing into PUBLIC ENEMY live performances


It also comes from the National of Islam's Fruit of Islam wing, responsible for security. They do something like step that's called drill (also). That's what the S1Ws are emulating.
posted by chrchr at 12:13 PM on February 28, 2010


[Clementines4ever, you've been really acting out today and you need to cut it out pronto or we'll have it cut it out for you.]
posted by cortex at 12:17 PM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


http://www.spritestepoff.com/eligibility

While stepping is a traditionally black activity, the Sprite contest does not mention race at all in their eligibility requirements. When you offer people $100,000 in scholarships as a first place prize, it's bizarre to think that they should go "Hmmm, y'know what, even though our sorority has been doing this for years and years, we shouldn't enter this contest that we are eligible for because the people who made up stepping had skintones that were no where close to ours."
posted by 23skidoo at 12:28 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sparx: Also - in terms of prior art: three samoan slap dances

Read this as "salmon slap dances" and couldn't not think of this.
posted by hangashore at 12:53 PM on February 28, 2010


[Clementines, you've got a week off. Next time is for good.]
posted by cortex at 12:59 PM on February 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I thought it was kind of cute, his melange of indeciperable ranting that was nonetheless plainly self-contradictory.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:25 PM on February 28, 2010


I had someone ask me about the 'dot' post in MeMail, so I figured I'd post it here too:

Dr. Schelling's Neighborhood

First link is dead, but the second has a nice explanation. Apparently, the effect is even stronger than I remembered. The original study has the dots looking diagonally as well, wanting just one same-color neighbor out of eight. Even if their acceptable distance is expanded to two squares away, colonies of dots show a very strong tendency to cluster.
posted by Malor at 1:31 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Out of curiosity, what is the rationale / history / etc. of black fraternities / sororities belting out "INCORPORATED" after their names (when they present at step shows)? I've been wondering about that for a while, but I haven't seen anything online that references it.

I mean, my guess is that there was some sort of discrimination that prevented them from becoming incorporated, and once they overcame that hurdle, it was a badge of honor. But that's just speculation, and I'd be curious if anyone had references to cite (or anecdotes to relay).
posted by Alt F4 at 1:57 PM on February 28, 2010


Not a complete answer, but: 'Incorporated' is part of the name, and, at this point, it's a tradition among NPHC organizations.

When professional athletes name their alma mater, the ones from Ohio State make a point of saying The Ohio State University.
posted by box at 2:15 PM on February 28, 2010


Degrassi The Next Generation covered token membership by minorities in white sororities quite well.
posted by k8t at 3:50 PM on February 28, 2010


Also, IME, sororities are heavily relational. Your mom, older sister, cousin was a XYZ? You're in. This might explain some of the lack of diversity.

I recall the traditionally AfAm sororities being harsh in their hazing and socialization. Rumor had it the pledges couldn't speak to non-members during pledging. They couldn't even participate in class.
posted by k8t at 3:53 PM on February 28, 2010


I thought the Supreme Court sorted this out in the landmark case of You Got Served vs. Oh Snap!
posted by dr_dank at 4:08 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, God, this whole thing just makes me wince. If there's a better possible story that could draw out the "why isn't there a WHITE history month" types (you know, the ones that still complain about "political correctness" like that was ever a real thing and not just code for a not-in-polite-company racist frustrated that his knee-slapper about how "BFI" on the side of dumpsters stands for "black family inside" doesn't get as many laughs as it once did), I don't want to know what it is. I don't want to know anything about this, actually.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:04 PM on February 28, 2010


Alt F4:The whole incorporated thing comes from a time when black organizations could not incorporate. I really can't remember the details but there was some legal fight about it.
posted by Rubbstone at 5:14 PM on February 28, 2010


Rumor had it the pledges couldn't speak to non-members during pledging.

This was true at my school, in both black sororities and fraternities. Pledges could only speak to each other and brothers/sisters (and could only speak to brothers/sisters when spoken to). They could speak to other students when they ordered food at the cafe, for instance, or in discussion sections in class, and they could talk during class and speak with professors about academic matters. Pledges traveled together to and from meals, practice (if they were on sports teams or music groups together), to check their mail, etc. A good friend joined a Alpha Kappa Alpha at the start of our senior year and boy was I pissed - we weren't allowed to talk to each other until spring term. But her mom and grandmother and a couple of aunts had all been members; she'd resisted joining, but in the end, she did.
posted by rtha at 5:16 PM on February 28, 2010


Oh, it's on.
posted by organic at 6:36 PM on February 28, 2010


By your description, rtha, sororities and fraternities are destructive of the greater community. Can't really have community without communication. What is the upside for the university in allowing this kind of frat behaviour (assuming the frats are on-campus)? And why would anyone want to perpetuate it?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:57 PM on February 28, 2010


I don't exactly agree, fff. They were a factor in building strong community among black students on campus, of whom there were few (and not all of them joined black frats or sororities, or any Greek organization at all). And they built community with the other Greek-letter organizations on campus - everybody co-sponsored stuff with other frats/sororities. They sponsored parties, various community volunteer projects, lectures, panel discussions, etc.

I wasn't pissed that she joined a sorority - I mean, I'd joined one too (and gone inactive within a year or so), though it was one with far fewer restrictions on pledges. I was pissed she joined our senior year. I was also pissed at a couple of other friends who decided to take off-campus terms my senior spring. My college runs on terms, rather than semesters, and you could arrange to spend a good two years off campus entirely by taking foreign study programs, or spending a transfer term at a different school, or interning somewhere. Or just working, which is what I did for one of my off-campus terms.

It's a small school. The residency plan is far more destructive to the community than black frats or sororities. I think one of the reasons the Greek system is so popular there is because it give you a built-in "home" for when you've been off-campus for two or three terms in a row. I can't speak to their effect in larger institutions because I didn't go to one.

As for perpetuating it - well, in my experience, college-age people really like belonging to groups.
posted by rtha at 7:13 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


DecemberBoy : Oh, God, this whole thing just makes me wince. If there's a better possible story that could draw out the "why isn't there a WHITE history month" types

Well played, sir!

Marginalizing an entire population on the basis of them daring to point out that that reverse discrimination still counts as discrimination - Sublime.

9/10.

You only lost a point for your last sentence - Claiming you want to know nothing about a thread you not only read, but posted to, well, just not good form. Faux indignation carries an obligation to have a "take all comers" attitude.
posted by pla at 7:16 PM on February 28, 2010


I know it's hard to believe, but it is totally possible to try to make a point on Metafilter without resorting to being a condescending prick.
posted by graventy at 7:26 PM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I keep asking this: do folks /still/ join these things? Aren't fraternal orgs rather anachronistic?

As for the "stepping," I don't see much more here than a bunch of kids coming up with little hand-clap songs like they did at my grade school during recess. The fact that erstwhile grown women persist in doing this speaks more to extended adolescence than anything else.

Black or white, it's rather silly.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:37 PM on February 28, 2010


I keep asking this: do folks /still/ join these things?

Yes.

Aren't fraternal orgs rather anachronistic?

Apparently not. I know several people who go to a new city, whether moving or traveling, and immediately have a place to stay, a connection, and possibly inroads to a new job. I think it's crappy, but there are some advantages to those who become members. It's like an insiders club. I'm sure someone can tell some good stories of advantages, free things, savings, jobs or other benefits they've gotten from membership.
posted by cashman at 7:53 PM on February 28, 2010


This is sounding more and more like a bad movie script.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:00 PM on February 28, 2010


Well, I don't know frats from marmota vancouverensis, so I'll take your words on it. There were shedloads of clubs and groups on the campus I attended, with a 30K student population; it's not like there isn't self-segregation in all places where people meet. But the frats seem to take it to an odd and disconcerting extreme, it seems to me. Not being allowed to communicate freely with others is, y'know, kinda cult-like in nature.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:06 PM on February 28, 2010


This is sounding more and more like a bad movie script.

"Bring it On 4: You Wanna Step?" is going to be awesome and you know it.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:16 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The idea of an all-white sorority in Arkansas, to me, seems really weird. They can't recruit a single black member? They can't even get an Asian or Latina girl to join? What are they doing that makes them so unappealing of a crowd to hang out with that not a single minority woman on campus wants to have anything to do with them?

The university landscape is hardly a microcosm of typical society in general (which in Arkansas is probably pretty low income and not educationally superior), though maybe University of Arkansas is a hypersegregated place. We all know society is all pretty segregated in general and I'm not surprised at Arkansas, though I am surprised in a way because I would have expected that it would be somewhat integrated at the university level. Though when we were talking about the Psi Phis or whatever at Cornell, it looked like they had a couple of Asian and Latina girls (as well as a girl who was South Asian) on board. They didn't have any black members at all. -annicat

I guess I'm one of the closest things to an expert on the University since I'm currently attending and actually live right behind the Zeta house. Literally, we share an alley.

First, I have not heard an loud choruses of anguished sorority girls waking me up in the middle of the night. If it's upsetting to the Zeta members, they're not holding any demonstrations outside their house. More to the point, while it was a local news item, it really hasn't stirred that much raging controversy. Here's the school paper's initial coverage of the win with student reactions. Incidentally, no one even bothered to comment on it. (Though, an article about University plans on funding more diversity on campus did generate comments). Incidentally, as much as people put down the golfing analogy, an interview on the news with an African-American student had the fellow making the same analogy (by which he rationalized what happened - the white Zeta team winning).

I've spent approximately six years on campus pursuing two different degrees, and I can't say that diversity on campus is much different than you'd expect on many other campuses across the nation. My law school actually ranks high nationally for the level of its diversity, and at least in the hallways of that school, you will see mixed groups of people hanging out, chatting, or engaged in study, etc. (As an aside, the admission of an African-American student by the U of Arkansas law school back in the late 40's was the first for any graduate or professional studies program for any all white school in the South. We have a room named for the "Six Pioneers" who were the first black students to graduate). I can't speak for other areas on campus, but to state that at least in the news, I can't recall any incidents of racism popping up between students. That I have seen minority women in the non-Black sororities and no hate crimes have been reported by the campus police in the last three years preceding 2009.

So what am I trying to say as I nod off to sleep? I think the people down here in Fayetteville are dealing with it better than folks on a national level?
posted by Atreides at 8:43 PM on February 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Marginalizing an entire population on the basis of them daring to point out that that reverse discrimination still counts as discrimination - Sublime.

I'm not sure, but I don't think you're new here. The question of "white history month" has been hashed out here multiple times, isn't an especially useful discussion, is sort of a bullshit comment with an easy to Google answer, and devalues our discussion here.

I for one would rather you not drag it -- and the whole "reverse racism" horseshit -- into this thread, and, moreover, not claim that mocking such nonsense somehow marginalizes an entire population.Unless, by "entire population" you mean "white people have weird issues with black people and poor reasoning skills," in which case I'd rather see those people marginalized. Decemberboy's mockery was well-placed.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:48 PM on February 28, 2010


You want to have a race-free competition? Make one. But don't step on the toes of an established institution, take it to court (that's what it's for) so the whole country can decide.

What!? The whole country decides court cases..? Last time I was in court it was either a judge or a jury that decided ..and it wasn't for the whole country but in the jurisdiction of a state.
posted by pwedza at 9:59 PM on February 28, 2010


MetaFilter: I couldn't help but wonder, if dots were self-aware
posted by dhartung at 10:31 PM on February 28, 2010


They're going to make even more from the film rights.
posted by mecran01 at 11:05 PM on February 28, 2010


But the frats seem to take it to an odd and disconcerting extreme, it seems to me. Not being allowed to communicate freely with others is, y'know, kinda cult-like in nature.

Well, several things. First, cults are successful despite the lunacy because they offer things that work They care about you: even when you're at the the low end of the cult, you're theirs. They take responsibly for you, and so in a very impersonal world, that can be a comfort. So it is in Fraternities and Sororities. They do care about you to a very bizarre degree. Even as a pledge, you're very much their pledge so if someone outside of the fraternity messed with you, they would be there in a heartbeat. They have created the entire pledging system to foster a sense of loyalty not only for the pledges up, but for the members that see the zealotry of the pledges during this time and realize that they too must be loyal to the ideals and to each other. Later on, this loyalty will make them trust someone based only on the fact that they went to the same frat on the other side of the nation. Despite its negative connotation on here sometimes, loyalty can be an immensely positive and uplifting virtue that takes the self beyond their own wants and desires.

The other issue is the fact that the pledges aren't allowed to talk to non-members on campus (except as required by the college world). This very much enforces the idea of solidarity and causes them to bind together despite the fact that many of them would never hang out together. Well, when that one guy is one of the few that you're allowed to talk freely with, you start to share a lot more with him. Limiting the communication is really expanding the communication in a different direction, one that can be a very positive experience for a new or even an old college student.

Finally, never underestimate what people put themselves through just to tell a story. People secretly like sacrificing for a worthy cause, and when all that is asked for is that, you can give it your all. You can pour your energy into something that seems worthy (and that loves you back), and feel good about it. It'll be a great story down the road after all.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 11:14 PM on February 28, 2010


double Dutch > step dancing
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:51 PM on February 28, 2010


Thank you, Atreides, for saying that.

I work at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. All I'd heard about the competition was how great it was that a team from the U of A won, regardless of which sorority or fraternity it might have been. I haven't heard anyone complaining at all.

In spite of the fact that it's Arkansas, we have an incredibly diverse campus, including a large international community. In my opinion, that makes the town better and healthier overall. Every day I work, I interact with people from everywhere. My children get to interact with people from everywhere. We're sometimes called the Athens of Arkansas, which may sound like a backhanded compliment, but ladies and gentlemen, this is a fine place to live.

What the hell? Ludacris was in town and I didn't hear about THAT? How did I miss that?

My husband is an alum of the Theta Tau fraternity (for engineering students, although not all members get engineering degrees), and I'd love it if a bunch of "nerds" competed in a step competition and won.
posted by lilywing13 at 1:16 AM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Would you apply this same reasoning to all-black sororities/fraternities? It seems like you've made a few assumptions here that may or may not actually apply.

The black students are a minority and it makes sense for a minority to form a group representative of unique interests. However, if a white student wanted to join, they should be allowed to, so long as it's not a publicity stunt. I actually think the black students wouldn't mind. We had a couple of white students join our South Asian student association in college. We never excluded them.

What are the white students doing that black students could never identify with, seeing that blacks have to live in the mainstream culture and participate in all the things whites do since it's the mainstream culture? I mean, are they all in the same club because they like boys, are brunettes, are thin, and have rich parents? Or are they all afraid of identifying with minorities or having minorities identify with them?
posted by anniecat at 6:48 AM on March 1, 2010


I actually think the black students wouldn't mind.

Why don't you think the same thing about an all-white sorority?
posted by 23skidoo at 7:40 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie : I for one would rather you not drag it -- and the whole "reverse racism" horseshit -- into this thread

Pssst - Scroll up a few to DecemberBoy's post. If you don't want something dragged into the conversation, talk to the cat, not the guy trying to sweep bird corpses back out the door.


and, moreover, not claim that mocking such nonsense somehow marginalizes an entire population.

This entire thread exists in response to an FP about a "traditionally black" contest having two winners because its sponsors considered it too - and yes, I'll say this totally without irony - politically incorrect to let an all-white team win. DecemberBoy chose to preemptively mock anyone who would dare point out the elephant in the room.

Hey, I like pointing out elephants. Deal.

Now, I don't care one way or the other if we have all-X organizations - Pretty much the point of my original post to this topic. But if we do allow all-X organizations, then we'd damned well better allow all-Y organizations as well.


Decemberboy's mockery was well-placed.

...Except insofar as it had no relevance whatsoever to the topic of discussion or even to any ongoing offtopic threads, and even went so far as to say he wanted nothing to do with a topic he chose to not only read, but post to.

But yeah, ignoring all that, well placed.
posted by pla at 9:38 AM on March 1, 2010


Out of curiosity, when did white Americans start banding together as a collective group regardless of where their ancestors came from? I was reading Tree Grows in Brooklyn and it sounds like Italians and Irish and Germans and all these different whites were actually having a lot of problems with each other in the beginning, with people moving out of neighborhoods because all the Italians were moving in and all the WASPy types felt Italians were too ethnic and ruining the neighborhood.

It depends where you live, and what basis people have for conflicts, really; in Chicago in the 80s and 90s, I lived in neighborhoods where ethnicity was still a commonplace basis for violent conflict despite similar skin tone. I personally think that, after you get past the "new" factor (ie people who aren't like you moving into your area for the first time) it comes down to how much of your own cultural identity you retain vs normalizing to the shared culture of the community. Of course, over time your own efforts to retain your own cultural identity will contribute to change in the shared culture, so if we live together long enough we eventually homogenize and get along.

In a way, skin color and other obvious physical differences between races might be the reason these conflicts tend to drag out longer for some groups, as you can't really homogenize your physical appearance like you can your culture. Same thing for sexual orientation, I should think. I can be standing next to a newly-immigrated person from the former Soviet Union, with whom I share no culture, and until we opened our mouths nobody would assume we were not part of the same culture (assuming his grooming habits were similar to mine.) I can be standing new to an American of African descent, whose family had been living here for generations, and until we opened our mouths most people would assume we had nothing in common at all.
posted by davejay at 12:32 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was mocking the fact that it's an idiotic argument, and that these sorts of events tend to invite that sort of idiocy. The worst I can say about his comment is that you don't speak of the devil unless you want him to appear. The worst I can say about your comments is that the devil has appeared, and seems to want to toss around every simplistic bumper sticker regarding race possible. Thanks for tossing in the bugaboo of political correctness. It also has pushed this discussion forward, rather than regressing it to some strange race-baiting rhetoric.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:35 PM on March 1, 2010


Oh, and I roller skate regularly at a neighborhood rink, and one night I was itching for physical activity so went on a different night from the usual.

When I got there, I was somewhat surprised: instead of a hodge-podge collection of people my age (of varying races) skating to lousy 80s music, it was packed to the rafters with African-Americans skating to R&B. So I went skating and had a good time, and other than the music and crowd level it was no different than the usual night, except for one thing: I was trying to get onto the rink when an older woman was trying to get off, and we almost collided -- and she got in my face immediately and yelled at me for being white. After a beat, she and I both cracked up, hugged, and went about our business.

No point to that, really, other than that it seemed apropos for this thread.
posted by davejay at 12:37 PM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie : He was mocking the fact that it's an idiotic argument

To what do you refer? The argument that Coke wimping out and choosing two winners counts as nothing less than hypersensitivity, and arguably even reverse discrimination, toward issues of race?

If it counts as such an idiotic argument, why did it hit the blue? Because really, I can't think of too many other places this FP could have gone but to a discussion of whether or not Coke did exactly that (or, if you wanted it to get even uglier, whether or not some races have a right to call some art forms "theirs").


the devil has appeared, and seems to want to toss around every simplistic bumper sticker regarding race possible.

Really now, have I? Could you point out a single example of a simplistic racist bumper-sticker I've tossed out? Re-reading my comments so far, I just don't see any. Help me out here.


Thanks for tossing in the bugaboo of political correctness.

Sorry, but yet again, DB dragged in that bird's corpse, I merely responded. Thanks for giving me so much credit, though.


It also has pushed this discussion forward, rather than regressing it to some strange race-baiting rhetoric.

So now I've gone from mere racist bumper-stickers to race baiting? Well now, I can't wait to read the next installment of "Astro Zombie's tales of white flight"... Will you have me burning crosses on my lawn next, or merely making jokes about the president's favorite fast food chain?
posted by pla at 1:24 PM on March 1, 2010


Gosh, you know, this isn't about you. And I'm not especially interested in having this discussion, except to say you are, in fact, race baiting by using loaded, thoughtless language, and I have less than zero tolerance for it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:42 PM on March 1, 2010


Astro Zombie : except to say you are, in fact, race baiting by using loaded, thoughtless language, and I have less than zero tolerance for it.

Yawn.

Support your claims or GTFO.
posted by pla at 1:50 PM on March 1, 2010


cashman: But unfair outcomes on MTV and in national talent competitions are seriously easy to find, and the vast majority of the time it is the white or lighter skinned person who is on the receiving end of the good fortune, so wah. It's about time white people got shafted in these cases.

(facepalm)

(files cashman along with the deplorable few Brits heard remarking "It's about time!" the day the WTC was hit with a car bomb)

(notes that "It's about time!" is one of those linguistic idiot-markers)
posted by IAmBroom at 2:11 PM on March 1, 2010


Actually I feel like the more times these cases happen, it serves as a marker for getting further along toward the end of racism. I can't remember the exact wording but I remember seeing a cartoon where there's a judge and there are a bunch of pretty white kids getting unfairly convicted of a crime or something, and the caption is something like 'the official day racism ends'.

Obviously I don't want white people to get shafted in general. But the more it happens to everybody and not just the non-white people...the more you can look at things and say "well everybody gets that happening to them", that's not a bad thing. Sure ideally it wouldn't be happening to any of us at all. But yeah, there are a bunch of little issues like this that aren't great, but also serve as signals of a move in a direction away from when one group of us is on the 'fuck you' end of all the racial discrimination.

Chill with the insults.
posted by cashman at 2:31 PM on March 1, 2010


cashman:
It's about time white people got shafted in these cases.
and
Obviously I don't want white people to get shafted in general.

No, it's not obvious at all, since you specifically contradicted yourself.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:16 PM on March 1, 2010


Guess I should've picked up that copy of the Traveller. I was wondering what ZTA was xD
posted by rubah at 8:42 PM on March 1, 2010


You're still not getting it. You've seen college basketball games before, right? "It's about time Duke got called for a ticky tack foul". "Obviously I don't want non-fouls called in general, or poor calls made in general". But the idea is, if one team is going to get called for barely touching the other team, then be consistent and call those on the other team. It's not a contradiction, it's a call for consistency in the poor calls until good calls start being made.
posted by cashman at 5:18 AM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yep, I'm still not getting the logical contortions you're going through to justify a complete flip in meaning between your two statements.

But please continue. It's fascinating.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:27 PM on March 2, 2010


I have no problem whatsoever understanding the difference between acknowledging that when unfair decisions are made, they should affect whites and blacks equally, though they currently do not; and not wanting unfair decisions to be made.

Methinks the problem is not with anything cashman is saying, but with your inability to think.

But please continue. It's fascinating.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:04 PM on March 2, 2010


Any chance I can persuade you guys to continue this argument in rhyme-battle form?
posted by box at 6:46 AM on March 3, 2010


« Older The Patriot Act was originally signed into law by ...  |  Dating back to 6 Centuries bef... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments