During this year’s annual Sprite Step-Off in Atlanta, an all white sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha from the University of Arkansas, won over five other groups to take home the grand prize.
The controversy surrounding their win was huge, although their title as winner was short-lived.
Their performance was inspired by the movie The Matrix.
Coca-Cola, the sponsor of the event, announced that due to apparent “scoring discrepancies,” the second place Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. from Indiana University would share first place with the all white Zeta Tau Alpha. Both teams would receive the same $100,000 in scholarships. There have been no reports on what the specific discrepancies were that lead to this change in judgment.
Almost every historically black college and university has Greek organizations. These individuals are united together through a strong sense of community service, family, sisterhood/brotherhood, academia and the art of stepping. This group of men and women can be found stomping a crack into the grounds of “the Patch,” “the Set”, or “the Yard.”
“The united effort to express oneself within a group of individuals is to make one rhythmic sound of harmony that resonates through the body vibrating off the bone with seamless fluid movements of clapping and stomping,” according to Lawrence Ross Jr.’s The Divine Nine: A History of Black fraternities and sororities.
The fact that an ethnic out-group won a competition that black Greeks feel is their own personal rite of passage and cultural heritage disturbs some people. The integration of this exclusively black activity makes people feel uncomfortable, as if their culture has been stolen.
I don’t feel the same way.
I know I am and where I came from. Others may copy what black Greek organizations have been doing for hundreds of years through stepping, but they will never have the connection that is so exclusively linked to the craft itself.
As far as the competition goes, the fact that an all-white step team beat a black Greek organization at their own game has made them mad. Instead of being envious, the participating black organizations should work harder for next years contest. The integration of the art of stepping serves as a learning tool so others can immerse themselves in the culture of black Greeks.
In the end, black Greeks are the founders of a craft that will pay them homage for years to come.