Would you pledge a White sorority? Would you care if a White sorority didn’t want you there in the first place?
Recently, the University of Alabama’s Alpha Phi chapter released a recruitment video that looked more like a White Rain commercial circa 1985 starring a cast of Christie Brinkley look-alikes. The video was viewed more than 500,000 times before it was taken down a week later (though it can still be found elsewhere). It showed a sorority that, apparently, is sorely lacking diversity of every kind. It was a four-minute salute to whiteness, blondness, and skinniness; there were no big chicks, no brunettes, and no Blacks–or any minority for that matter.
The thing is, to me, the women themselves weren’t the stars of the video. The headlining attraction was White Girl Hair. And, Lord, did those girls milk the hell out of their White Girl Hair. It was, like, see White Girl Hair thrown back in laughter! See White Girl Hair whipping around while dancing or walking on a windy day! See White Girl Hair cascading down a toned back and clavicle-enhanced shoulders! See White Girl Hair being swept away from a face or pushed behind an ear!
The other costar was White Girl Legs, as in, see White Girl Legs in a miniskirt running up stairs! See White Girl Legs in denim cutoffs jauntily skipping in the grass! (Not to mention that in one scene, two of the sorority girls literally spread White Girl Magic. With silver glitter in their palms, they gently puffed air into the piles of pixie dust, and they smiled satisfyingly as the sparkly specks danced before their eyes.)
Some people–mostly White people, it seems–have been criticizing the video for its single-minded and objectifying view of women. There’s also a sideline argument that the video is also, you know, really White. But I’ve yet to hear any real chatter about the story from Black folks, although the video all but advertises a “No Blacks Allowed” enlistment ethic.
I’m not saying that Black women need to be up in arms over this somewhat laughable incident. I, personally, don’t care. But the fact that I didn’t care made me wonder: Why don’t I care?
I admit: I file this video under W for Whatever. Racially speaking, there are just some things that White people and Black people do differently from one another that aren’t necessarily offensive to the other group. For example, let’s get back to White Girl Hair. White women are just far more touchy-feely with their hair than Black women are. Some of them flip it incessantly (even in your face) or tuck it behind their ear like they have a nervous tick. Others twirl it around their fingers like they don’t want to forget it’s still there. I’ve never seen Black women with long hair participate in so much hair choreography in the same constant, look-at-me-doing-stuff-with-my-hair-around-because-I’ve-got-lots-of-it way that White women do.
But you know what? What White women do with their hair doesn’t offend me. It might exclude me. It might, at times, seem like it’s trying to taunt me. But I’m not moved. By now, many Black women have outgrown our inferiority complexes about White women’s hair. And we’re like, you know, “Whatever.”
So there’s no need for Black women to respond to homogeneity in a college sorority because it’s not much different from what’s portrayed in many, if not most, women’s magazines. (Seriously, count the number of White women pictured in the major women’s magazines, on every page, and then compare it to the number of non-White women.)
But, again, people seem less up in arms about it being a group of all-White women on display and more upset by the fact that it’s a sexy display. If the same cast of women also included shots of themselves serving food at a homeless shelter, teaching “urban youth” to ride bicycles in the countryside, or sitting at a crowded library table with open textbooks, then, perhaps, it wouldn’t have mattered that there weren’t any women of color in the scenes.
I guess you might say the Alpha Phi sorority video would be the equivalent of Howard’s Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter recording a recruitment ad if it had a trap soundtrack incorporating their signature skee-wee while showing a bunch of girls twerking in skimpy pajamas in their dorm rooms or parading around in green and pink bikinis and popping bottles of champagne poolside.
I kinda love that Black women haven’t been up in arms on social media about the Alpha Phi video. We have other things to worry about. It’s proof to me that Black women aren’t “overly sensitive” to “every little thing” that excludes or offends us, as folks like to suggest while still pointing out things that deserve an explanation. But considering the blatant “Blacks not welcome” suggestion that people say the video portrays, I’m curious: Should we care? Do you care?