I do not attend white frat parties. At least, not of my own free will.
I’d much rather hang out with my friends, with whom I already have things in common. To them, my skin color, my favorite music, and the way I dance are seen as familiar and recognizable, which makes me feel much more comfortable. Occasionally, my friends will convince me to accompany them to the “upsilon-delta-something or other” party and I’ll oblige, but that only happens when I am truly desperate to escape my responsibilities. But my choice not to attend white frat parties is not entirely my own. The white frat parties don’t want me there either.
Of course, white fraternities cannot just overtly turn away every place person who shows up at their doors. After the downfall of SAE, white frats have to be extra-sneaky about their racism. I think every person of color who has attended a predominately white institution (PWI), including my beloved Penn, has heard at least one of the following phrases:
“We’re super packed right now. Just wait 15 to 20 minutes. Walk around the block and then try again.”
This is usually said as a pack of white students walk right past me and the “wanna-be” bouncer and into the party with absolutely no trouble.
“Your ratio is awful. You need more chicks.”
This is said as a troupe of white men stands guard in-front of the door, deciding if I and the other brown girls are worth bending the rules for.
And the infamous phrase:
“Who do you know here? Okay, call them and if you can get them on the phone, I’ll let you in.”
Oh yeah, my contact list is full of people who think things like thug-themed parties and buying black blow-up dolls for a Christmas card are hilarious.
Once I hear these lines, I am immediately ready to leave.
I will not stick around to try to barter or haggle my way into an environment that clearly was never intended from me (I can tell by the portraits of the Confederate soldiers that are hanging in the front hall), when I could just as easily play some music and relax with people I actually care about. It baffles me why some of my black peers would put forth so much effort to squeeze their way into these parties, just to be forced into the middle of a circle of people when “Teach Me How to Dougie” comes on. Just this past weekend, as a large group of my friends and I entered a fraternity, a frat brother told the DJ to play more “ratchet” music.
Newsflash: Black party-goers are not hired entertainment for your festivities. We come to parties for the same reasons everyone else does: just to let loose.
This is why we stay close to each other. This is why the black cultural center on campus and the black lunch table in the dining hall are not racist. They are simply safe spaces for black people to congregate and be recognized. Understood.
This is why we get so excited for the Alpha and Kappa parties. Simply sharing music and dance with people who look like you is a privilege at PWIs. There are many underrated and undervalued privileges that are hidden around every college campus, especially ones with large white enrollment. They include walking across one’s own campus at night without security asking for your ID, and taking a class about your history as a requirement – instead of an elective.
With the hailstorm of violence against black citizens, ignorant comments about Mexican people made by someone who could possibly become president, and gross appropriation of cultures in the media, being surrounded by a majority of people who are inherently more privileged than you becomes increasingly challenging to deal with. In the middle of the disaster that is the United States’ racial climate, it is only natural for students of color to take comfort in one another, especially on campuses that are filled with people who simply cannot relate.
And so I will continue to pass on white frat parties.
If not for the gross misogyny that Greek life tends to perpetuate, then for the mutual discomfort between me and the brothers of “upsilon-delta-something or other.” It’s probably for the best; I can’t dougie very well anyway.