SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 28

FEATURE ARTICLES
Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don't:
Racial Inequities In Higher Education
Dr. Janine M. Weaver-Douglas, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee
Book: Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on Campus
Author: Lawrence Ross (2015)
My introduction to the scholarship of Lawrence Ross was two-fold. His book, The Divine Nine: The History of African
American Fraternities and Sororities, considered a seminal text on the Black collegiate fraternity experience guided
me through my own initiation into a BGLO. But it was his response to the 2014 VH1 show Sorority Sisters that
cemented his personage in my mind. The reality show, based on several members of Black sororities, was widely
regarded as both insulting and affronting by Black Greeks, and Ross deputized himself to become the patron
saint of the show's demise. It barely lasted a season, and all notions of it have been effectively removed from the
reality show lexicon. But for me, it remained. Was I offended by the show? No. Was I entertained? Yes. But the
fact that he was so mad - that's what stayed with me.
I kept all of this in mind when I decided to select his 2015 book for this review. I knew I wanted a text that
spoke to some of the universal realities of college life, so although he has mainly centered on the Black Greek
experience, I felt confident that there would be substance that also highlighted the work that parallels across the
university whenever race, identity, and politics are discussed. He did not disappoint.
Ross begins with a polarizing event: the 2015 viral video of a University of Oklahoma fraternity, Sigma Alpha
Epsilon, singing " there will never be a n*gger in SAE!/ you can hang them from a tree/but they'll never sign
with me! " The expected introduction with a fraternity was expected, and he did not disappoint.
But then he goes deeper. Ross does something absolutely genius: He provides very distinct battlegrounds (he
calls them " areas of hyper whiteness on campus " ) where the politics of race have been waged on the university
campus, and creates connective tissue back to what I would consider to be the essential learning element of the
SAE story and it's ilk: " It starts as a chant. It starts as a song. Until someone's dead. "
In an introduction titled " A Century of Isolated Incidents " , Ross offers: " it was important for people to know
that all of these isolated incidents were part of a trend that stretched back for decades. " The battlegrounds that
Ross highlights are: Greek Row, affirmative action policies, student government and student organizations,
fraternity and sorority intake, social environments, and historical homage. Some of these are a given, based on
his expertise, but it is how he connects the underlying interdependence of each aspect that proves to be the true
revelation of the book.
In his examination of Greek Row, and by extension fraternity and sorority intake, Ross explained the
institutionalization of segregation. Literally on land owned by the university, and funded by private (and
therefore independent) fraternal organizations, Greek houses built in the style of literal plantations cropped up
on campuses across the country, right around the time Black and other non-white students began legislating
their way into academic communities. As a physical structure, Greek Row also symbolized what was acceptable
by the institution and its leadership, including the behavior that took place within its walls. In the decades
since then, there have been no changes to Greek Row communities across the country; they are still bastions of
white exclusivity, endorsed by university leadership, funded by alumni and national organizations, and almost
exclusively white. He uses the University of Alabama as an example:
" The state of Alabama rents prime real estate in the middle of the university campus to segregated fraternity
and sorority houses for a token fee of $100 a year (estimates of the fair market rental value of this real estate
are $600,000 annually - so a $599,900 discount per house per year). Because these predominantly white
fraternity and sorority houses are on the university land, the state also pays for maintaining the grounds
surrounding them. And because the fraternities and sororities belong to the Interfraternity Council, a student
organization that has free office space on campus (and a dedicated staff), they have access to free services,
office supplies and administrative support. At least $50 of each student's annual fees went to supporting the
racially segregated fraternity system " .
That, my friends, is institutionalized racism in action. In perpetuity.
28

SEAHO Report - Summer 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SEAHO Report - Summer 2021

Contents
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 1
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - Contents
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 3
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 4
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 5
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 6
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 7
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 8
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 9
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 10
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 11
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 12
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 13
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 14
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 15
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 16
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 17
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 18
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 19
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 20
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 21
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 22
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 23
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 24
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 25
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 26
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 27
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 28
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 29
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 30
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 31
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 32
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 33
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 34
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 35
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 36
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 37
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 38
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 39
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 40
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 41
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 42
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 43
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 44
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 45
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 46
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 47
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 48
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 49
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 50
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2024winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2023fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2023summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2023spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2023winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2022winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2021fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2021summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2021spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2021winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2020holiday
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2020fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2020spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2020winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2019fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2019summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2019spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2019winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2018fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2018summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2018spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2018winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2017summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2017spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2017winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2016fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2016summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2016spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2016winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2015fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2015summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2015spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2015winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2014fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2014spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2014winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/50thanniversary
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2013fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2013summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2013spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2013winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2012fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2012summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/2012winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/seaho/spring2011
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com