In the article You’re Either One of Us or You’re Not: Racial Hierarchy and Non-Black Members of Black-Greek Letter Organizations, the authors address the problems of “racial segregation” in the educational context that can be discovered as causes of debate to support racial diversity and equality at schools (Laybourne et al. 1). The main reason for focusing on this problem is the fact that educational institutions such as colleges and high schools support the principles of tolerance, but it does not guarantee the absence of problems related to racism (Laybourne et al. 1). In this instance, the authors use qualitative interviews to understand the impact of racism on the behavior of the students. Consequently, the primary goal of the paper is to explain these and other terms and concepts and clarify them to the reader, who does not know the topic. In the end, the conclusions are drawn to summarize the main findings of the paper and underline the main ideas of the authors.
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In the first place, racial segregation can be defined as “separation of humans into racial groups in daily life” (CTI Reviews 50). This matter can be based on legal aspects such as laws and rights or individual perceptions of racism and prejudice, and it is a highly common phenomenon in modern society. In turn, “racial discrimination” implies showing no respect to the representatives of other races and their rights and freedoms (Laybourne et al. 1). In this case, violating human rights is the main problem associated with racial discrimination. This term is highly linked to the concepts of racial bias that have a similar interpretation such as having prejudiced opinions about people of different races and ethnicities. These principles can be discovered as the main issues that are important and profoundly addressed in the article.
To support the diversity that can be defined as a term opposite to racial segregation since it encourages racial equality and justice, different micro-organizations tend to be established and include Black Greek-letter organizations (BGLOs) (Laybourne et al. 1). These organizations not only protect students from acts of discrimination but also help them become valuable members of society. Simultaneously, these entities were established in the twentieth century to encourage the development of self-identity, and it could be interpreted as the individual’s understanding of oneself “as an autonomous individual in charge of his her own life” while his/her decisions were based on different experiences acquired in the past or future (Kuzmanovich 325). The development of these characteristics is vehemently important in the modern world, as it helps people make logical decisions and act by social norms.
Thus, they achieved their goals by providing social support, explanations of leadership, scholarship, superior academic performance, and life-long membership (Laybourne et al. 4). Thus, the ideas of the need for racial recognition are supported in “Divine Nine” which is the organization that unites the existent BGLOs (Laybourne et al. 3). A combination of these matters helps BGLOs change position of the students in the society. The main reason for that is the fact BGLOs play on of the central roles in college or institution of higher education, and this feature helps its members communicate with the rest of the community and become more engaged in different activities. Consequently, it could be said that the role of BGLOs cannot be underestimated since it not only helps students avoid racial isolation (not being able to interact with the rest of the college community due to prejudices about race) but also assists them in becoming valuable and educated members of the society.
Nonetheless, recently, some of these entities expanded their opportunities to offer similar services to “various people of color around the world”, but originally, they only addressed the needs and problems of the Black community (Laybourne et al. 4). It could be said that the participation of non-Black members is often driven by social phenomena such as color-blindness. Colorblind racism can be defined as a strong belief that racism does not exist, and all people are equal (Turner and Nielsen 55). This absence of racial boundaries attracts more and more individuals of other races and ethnicities to BGLOs. However, it is not always the only benefit, as these communities also provide support and help build bonds with their members. However, the research shows that non-Black membership is still low, and it can be explained by different kinds of fears.
Thus, to understand the reasons for the development of BGLOs and discrimination in public schools, the racial climate is one of the most important factors, and it consists out of “norms, values, and routines” that define educational institutions’ attitudes towards the race (Laybourne et al. 4). It implies that the representatives of different cultures have dissimilar needs, and they have to be addressed in the curriculum. At the same time, the racial climate in the educational institution could be discovered as one of the main factors that could support diversity. Meanwhile, diversity implies creating equal opportunities and respecting every member of society disregarding his/her culture, ethnicity, and social status. In this case, the racial climate on campus can increase understanding of the individuals about the existence of different cultures (cultural awareness) and help them engage in different kinds of events (Laybourne et al. 4). Nonetheless, apart from the importance of these aspects in the American society, not all universities and colleges reflect the importance of multiculturalism in their racial climate, and it is one of the reasons for the rising growth of racism.
Alternatively, the racial landscape is another term, and it implies placing individuals of other races either as “honorary-whites” (who have access to scholarships and other educational opportunities) or as “triangled between Whiteness and Blackness” (Laybourne et al. 3). In this case, it could be said that this definition exists in different kinds of educational institutions such as colleges and universities, as it is the most common way to understand the way the scholarships are distributed (Laybourne et al. 3). Nonetheless, this model is based on stereotypes that are often defined as particular opinions about the individuals, who belong to a specific racial or professional group (Laybourne et al. 3). The lack of a clear distinction explains the reasons for the associations with the representatives of other races and the rising popularity of BGLOs. A combination of these factors underlines that all of these matters have a critical impact on diversity in educational institutions.
To determine the presence of aspects discovered above, the in-depth interviews were conducted to understand the popularity of BGLOs, responses to racial climate and boundaries, and the impact of BGLOs on racial hierarchy among college students of different ethnicities. The data was collected in 2014-2015, and respondents were representatives of different nationalities and ethnicities such as Vietnamese, Korean, Filipina, Guatemalan, Egyptian, and Puerto Rican (Laybourne et al. 4). Selecting the representatives of these groups was logical, as they are representatives of different races.
In the first place, one of the major findings was the fact that the racial hierarchy (majorities and minorities) continued to exist apart from cherishing the concepts of diversity in the organizations (Laybourne et al. 8). Nonetheless, many students did not depict or highlight any differences between students of diverse races, but they actively stated that the racial divide in a campus life continued to exist (Laybourne et al. 7). In this instance, it could be stated that many individuals did not consider joining BGLOs before college, as they were either not aware of it or did not view it as a necessity. Nonetheless, when starting their studies at college, they were shocked by the racial climate and strong racial hierarchy (Laybourne et al. 7). This matter was a primary reason for attracting people to join BGLOs, as they needed support.
Simultaneously, it was discovered that the racial landscape was even more complex, as many students joined fraternities not only because of their race but also due to their leadership roles and the possibility to become a part of the community. In turn, apart from expanding coverage of BGLOs by encouraging participation of the representatives of other ethnicities, the racial boundaries were strong (Laybourne et al. 10). For instance, it was revealed that some of non-Black BGLO’s members were acting differently from other members of the community, and it was revealed that there were some typical behavioral norms related to BGLOs. This finding supports that racial hierarchy is rather strong. At the same time, some non-white members of BGLOs such as Latinos were not respected by other black participants and people outside BGLOs, as they did not belong to any of the groups (whites or blacks) (Laybourne et al. 10). These members often experienced problems, as they were not fully respected. It could be said that these factors stated that the issues and racial hierarchy were more complicated than expected, and new measures had to be introduced to cultivate equality and diversity in the educational institutions.
In the end, it is critical to summarize the main findings of the paper since they will have a beneficial impact on understanding the topic. In this case, it could be said that despite the rising popularity of tolerance, diversity, and equality, the racial divide of the past had a clear impact on racial climate, values, norms, and hierarchy accepted in the educational institution (Laybourne et al. 11). At the same time, it was unveiled that BGLOs still help the representatives of the Black community, but, due to changes in the racial landscape, some whites and members of other ethical groups start joining them. In turn, BGLOs have a positive impact on racial climate, as they increase awareness of the existence of diverse cultures and help students become leaders. Thus, these matters were entirely affected by the social hierarchy and values that were cherished in the educational institutions. Overall, it could be said that these findings could be viewed as a basis for the subsequent research due to the discovered dependence and continuous changes in understanding the differences between races in contemporary society.
CTI Reviews. Planning Local Economics Development, Theory and Practice. Content Technologies, Inc., 2016.
Kuzmanovich, Daniella. Refractions of Civil Society in Turkey. Springer, 2012.
Laybourne, Wendy, et al. “You’re Either One of Us or You’re Not: Racial Hierarchy and Non-Black Members of Black-Greek Letter Organizations.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, vol. 1, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-14.
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Turner, Sarah, and Sarah Nielsen. The Colorblind Screen: Television in Post-Racial America. NYU Press, 2014.