By Zindzi Abuzuike
I remember telling my brother that there was no point in me going through recruitment. I knew I loved tattoos, piercings, and never straightening my hair. I didn’t think I would be accepted or wanted. Thankfully, he pushed me past my own anxieties so that I could surround myself with strong women throughout my undergraduate experience. I went through recruitment being unapologetically myself, knowing that if I got in, it was because the girls accepted me for me; if I wasn’t able to find a home, it would be for the best. I had my winged eyeliner, pierced brow, hoops, and red long box braids ready.
It turned out going though recruitment was one of the best decisions I could have made, especially since I went through first year, first semester. It has really shaped my university experience for the better. Through being in a sorority, I have gained more confidence in myself and in my capabilities to lead others. It has surrounded myself with amazing women who inspire and push me to be the best person I can be.
While being in a sorority has been, for the most part, a great experience for myself, it has not also been easy. Sometimes, I felt really out of place. Girls would say things that would be micro aggressions and I wouldn’t know how to respond. People would walk up and touch my hair and sometimes as a new member, you don’t know what to do. I would meet the same frat guy and he would still mix me up with another black girl in my sorority.
Greek life can be really grating on your self-confidence as a minority; but I found girls that always cared more about uplifting each other which helped me always get through. There was also a time I was being racially targeted by one of the members on my executive team. What was most unfortunate is that when you are in the minority, no one is there to support you in those micro aggressions. Some of my friends told me after how things seemed “weird” but they never stood up for me in the moment. I was left feeling confused and alone, hurt by the organization that was supposed to comfort me.
Lucky enough I had a black big and grand-big who both supported me whole heartedly and helped reach out to advisors. But the damage was still done, and I began to become a little more wary of my sorority. Then I realized it was my confidence in myself that made her uncomfortable. I am a proud black bisexual woman; my definition of womanhood did not conform to hers. Going forward the next year and receiving a position made me realize my sorority did trust me and I had the power to now make the change and create a safe space for girls.
Greek life has a lot of growing to do. I think a lot of girls who think of themselves as allies need to do a lot of self reflection and think of the times they were silent or bystanders when listening to racist or prejudiced statements. Overall, I would still not trade my experience in for anything. I have met girls who will craft, cry, and die for me.
I hope both Panhel and IFC can work together to create a more inclusive and accepting environment within Greek life. This will hopefully be done by implementing diversity directors and planning events cantered around supporting minority communities. I want people from BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities to feel safe and excited to go through recruitment! Greek life needs to drop the image of what it thinks it should “look like” and accept people in for who they are.