Blacks’ desire to be accepted fuels dangerous ‘traditions’

Why do we go to church every Sunday?Because it’s tradition.

And why do we subject ourselves to degradation, subjugation and physical brutality in the name of joining a Greek organization?

Because it’s tradition.

Judge Kathleen Dekker sent a message loud and clear Monday. In a case that has set precedent as the first test of Florida’s statute against hazing, Dekker made an example of Kappa Alpha Psi members Michael Morton and Jason Harris.

The message is: just because it’s tradition, doesn’t make it right.

More specifically, hazing, as “traditional” as it may be, is not lawful.

The authors of the Declaration of Independence said it was self-evident that all men are created equal.

But we know that document didn’t include black people.

Perhaps this is why blacks tell each other that we aren’t, indeed, all created equal. We tell ourselves for one reason or another – hair texture, skin color, bank statements or organizations – that some blacks are better than others.

Our elitist organizations tell us we must “be in or be out.” The refrain of our historically black fraternities and sororities is that outsiders must earn their acceptance. So clear and pervasive is this message that some people so desire to belong, they put themselves in harm’s way.

David Jackson, FAMU history professor and chairman, said in African culture, there have always been rituals and rites of passage.

But hazing is illegal.

Many people say the sentence was too harsh. The convicted men were in college, on the verge of making something of themselves.

Now they have a felony that will damage them forever.

Jackson said, “Their earning power will diminish, their professional opportunities will diminish. There’s a lot they just won’t be able to do.”

And why? For tradition?

There has to be a better way.

Driadonna Roland for the Editorial Board.