The Wise Guise is honored to have Josh Sigler (a loyal reader and friend) join us today with a guest post. Josh attends the University of Alabama and is writing about the big sorority segregation story that has broken into national news this week.
He writes, “Since the article was released, we have discussed it at length in every single one of my classes and in every class, the attitude has been the same: WE ARE FED UP. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say something like, “I don’t care what they call us, as long as some good comes of it all!” I know the rest of the nation probably won’t believe me, but this campus is ALIVE today. 50 years later and this new generation is ready to do whatever it takes to replace the old and build a new campus that seeks justice and embraces freedom and equality for all.”
Earlier this week, an incredible article was published by the Crimson White, the University of Alabama’s student run newspaper. It was entitled “50 Years Later, Segregation Still Exists” and I could NOT be more excited about it!
Now, if you only read the title of the article, then it may seem awful for me to be reacting to it positively. But the article tells the story of a couple of incredibly brave black women who went through rush for the traditionally white sororities on campus. As the article explains, these women were MORE than qualified based on traditional requirements such as grades, recommendations, background, and extra curricular activities. They were also hailed as having wonderful personalities by those who met them at rush parties or other events. Despite all this, both women were dropped from all sixteen of the sororities they were rushing.
And THAT’S where most people stopped reading it. The article was picked up by many other major news outlets including BuzzFeed, Jezebeel, Total Frat Move, and most notably, USA Today. If you read the response articles posted by these outlets, they almost universally come at it from the perspective of “Here’s Alabama, up to their old racist tricks as usual.”
The original article actually goes on to tell the story of how it all really happened. It explains that, in reality, it was almost universally NOT the current members of these sororities who made the decision to cut these women. In fact, many of them fought tooth and nail to try and see these women given equal opportunity to join their organization, some of them even leaving their sororities when the women were dropped. The article goes on to explain that it was almost always the alumni and advisors who donate thousands of dollars to these sororities who had the final say on making the cuts and that many current members did everything they could to oppose this.
But nobody wants to read that side of the story and you know what? I’m okay with that.
I get it. We’re Alabama. We are the butt of every comedian’s jokes about racist hicks. I understand the stereotype. I could use this platform to try and defend the University and explain how “not all of us are racist!” But I’m not going to. See the only reason this article got published in the first place was because of the women in these sororities who were willing to share their stories of how the events transpired. I GUARANTEE you that every one of them knew what they were getting into. They all knew that if this story was ever going to get any recognition and national attention, then it would only come in the form of people calling them and the University they attend racists.
But they did the story anyway.
They were willing to have their own names dragged through the mud for the sake of what’s right. This year is the 50th anniversary of both Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech as well as the integration of the University of Alabama. It would have been the perfect year for a black woman to receive a bid, but it didn’t happen. I wish it didn’t have to come to this. I wish it could have happened a different way but you know what? I’m okay with it happening the way it did. If I have to look like a racist jerk for going to school here to see a bigoted generation finally lose the power it has had, then I’m prepared to take it.
And I am not alone.
Since the article was released, we have discussed it at length in every single one of my classes and in every class the attitude has been the same: WE ARE FED UP. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say something to the affect of “I don’t care what they call us, as long as some good comes of it all!” I know the rest of the nation probably won’t believe me but this campus is ALIVE today. 50 years later and this new generation is ready to do whatever it takes to replace the old and build a new campus that seeks justice and embraces freedom and equality for all.
So if it takes the whole country calling us racists, then so be it. Bring it on. Just as long it brings change.
Josh Sigler. 21. Senior at University of Alabama Majoring in Communication Studies and German. I am the president of International Justice Mission‘s campus chapter at Bama as well as their National Student Leadership team. I’m a native Memphian and plan to move back after I graduate. It’ll be nice to be back in a town that cares about basketball. I don’t read a lot of blogs faithfully other than the Wise Guise. I have my own blog at joshsigler.wordpress.com Follower and lover of Jesus above all else!