Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Black Greek-Letter Organizations 2.0New Directions in the Study of African American Fraternities and Sororities$

Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781604739213

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604739213.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of
Subscriber: null; date: 23 October 2018

. Public Realism

. Public Realism

Propounding a Critical and Empirical Black “Greek” Scholarship

Chapter:
(p.2) (p.3) 1. Public Realism
Source:
Black Greek-Letter Organizations 2.0
Author(s):

Matthew W. Hughey

Gregory S. Parks

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781604739213.003.0001

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the role of critical and empirical scholarship on black Greek-letter organizations (BGLOs) within the framework of jurisprudence and in relation to two strands of legal philosophy, “formalism” and “realism.” It highlights the need for critical and empirical research on BGLOs and explains how theoretical insights from the social sciences can further advance the legitimacy of BGLOs. It also looks at the tension between “professional” and “public” social thought, a tension that has long plagued the development of sociology. It argues that a “public-realist” BGLO scholarship is not only possible but also necessary, and in fact is already taking place. It also discusses the “formalist/realist” and “professional/public” tension by citing the issue of hazing, pledging, and membership intake processes in BGLOs.

Keywords:   black Greek-letter organizations, jurisprudence, legal philosophy, formalism, realism, sociology, hazing, pledging, empirical research, social sciences

In 2005, Tamara Brown and colleagues published a unique book. African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision, became one of the first scholarly books on black Greek-letter organizations (BGLOs). To date, it is one of only three multidisciplinary works on the black fraternal tradition. The second appeared three years later in 2008. Gregory Parks’s Black Greek-Letter Organizations in the 21st Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun picked up where Brown and colleagues left off. Not only did Parks tackle a wide range of new substantive issues in his book, he also called for something that heretofore had not yet been pressed—a critical scholarship of BGLOs. In direct terms, Parks argued for such scholarship and delineated what the parameters of it should look like and what direction it should take.1 Herein in the third work, we add to this dialogue—focusing on the role of critical and empirical scholarship as they reasonably relate to BGLOs. In doing so, we employ an approach similar to that of Laura Roberts and Lynn Wooten’s “positive organizing” analysis of BGLOs.2 Roberts and Wooten did not simply employ a particular methodology, they applied an entire analytic framework from the field of organizational behavior. In this vein, we examine how the fields of legal and sociological philosophy find pragmatic application toward the study of BGLOs.

Currently, studies of BGLOs from without, and their own organizational practices from within, are severely limited by several dominant practices and critical assumptions. In the former, a great deal of scholarship on BGLOs fails to find relevance to pragmatic issues with which BGLOs are now faced. While it has been fashionable for some time to argue that academic disciplines are either “old-fashioned” or out-of-touch with “real-world” phenomena, we do find some credence in the argument that as BGLO scholarship matures into an academic subject field, it is hampered by parochialism endemic to the Ivory Tower. No doubt conditioned by the growing behemoth of “publish or perish” (p.4) cultural logic and the political economy of “customer service” undergraduate education, the production of BGLO-related knowledge largely fails in its applicability to the modern-day problems such as financial burdens, hazing, elitism, and BGLOs’ relevance to social justice activism—at least explicitly.

Yet in the latter, we find many BGLO rank-and-file members and leadership either unwilling or unable to take the suggestions of empirical and critically driven social science. Instead, many demonstrate a Philistine-like approach to social science and legal philosophy; favoring conventional social values and dominant ideologies uncritically if not reverently. While academe may constrain some conversations, they also enable, structure, and guide sound inquiry. The growing ad hominem attacks on BGLO scholars qua BGLO scholars seem motivated by an assumption that removing academic voices, methods, and analytic frameworks will somehow simply reveal a structure of pure and unsullied knowledge ripe for the picking.

As a sociologist and a legal theorist, and in sharing a combined membership that spans almost three decades in two BGLOs, we neither serve as apologists for BGLOs nor do we saddle them with blame. Rather, we seek a meeting ground in which the insights of jurisprudence and social inquiry can capture the attention of BGLOs so to assist in problem-solving key issues in ethical, self-determinative, and democratic fashion. In order to lay out our program in this chapter, we take a multipronged approach.

First, we outline the development of certain elements of the field of jurisprudence that is bookended by two strands of legal philosophy, “formalism” and “realism.” In this section we show how the philosophy of formalism encouraged the adoption of a rule-based system of law that is abstracted from the actual material conditions of people and which defines the social uses and effects of law as extralegal, ancillary, and out of bounds. Contra-formalism, “realism” regards the intersection of social science and jurisprudence as a necessary step toward the creation of laws that are sensitized to people’s actual lived experiences.

Second, we provide an overview of a tension that has long plagued the development of sociology, the strain between “professional” and “public” social thought. While the former provides conceptual frameworks and bodies of knowledge, it is often restricted to academic venues in which one can enter only after substantial training. As the dominant form of sociological practice, many professional sociologists do not interact directly with the public, but concern themselves with tackling abstract puzzles and philosophical quandaries. “Public” sociologists seek to transcend abstract musings of the academy and engage a wider audience. Rather than being defined by a particular method, theory, or set of political values, public sociologists attempt to make accessible the tools and findings of intellectual inquiry for the betterment of the world. We cover these two historical trajectories of law and sociology to demonstrate (p.5) that while the formal production of knowledge is a contested field, it is not one dimensional. Rather, there exist various intellectual modalities that are open to engagement with the problems of the everyday.

In so doing, we segue to the third section of this chapter whereby we argue that a “public-realist” BGLO scholarship is not only possible, but is also necessary, and already underway. In order to articulate our vision, we explore the “formalist/realist” and “professional/public” tension by way of an apt example: the issue of hazing, pledging, and membership intake processes. Hence, we argue that realist and public scholarship that is both empirical and critical is neither a simple shift in disciplinary boundaries nor a discursive sleight-of-hand toward the creation of nouveau jargon, but is a method for the incorporation of knowledge into the daily operations and long-term viability of BGLOs.

BGLOs must become open to the tools of scholastic inquiry if they are to remain relevant in the day and age of the cultural contradictions of race. That is, it is common to hear the folk-tale narrative that we now live in a “colorblind” or “post-racial” society, yet the material realities of race, illuminated by the methods and paradigms of legal realism and public sociology, show that housing segregation has nearly doubled since the 1980s,3 the black-white pay gap (24 cents on the dollar) has remained the same since 1975,4 and whites with felony convictions do better in their search for employment than blacks with no criminal record.5 In this still-racialized milieu, BGLOs’ ability to fight de facto segregation, to serve as vehicles for the attainment of education and equitable economic recompense, and to challenge the hegemony of the hyper-incarceration of young black men and women, is crucial. It is our hope that this chapter, and those that follow, may guide the reader to draw from multiple academic disciplines in ways that echo Cornel West’s call for “a future-oriented instrumentalism that tries to deploy thought as a weapon to enable more effective action.… a plebeian radicalism that fuels an antipatrician rebelliousness for the moral aim of enriching individuals and expanding democracy.”6

Jurisprudential Schools of Thought

There are several axes upon which to analyze jurisprudential schools of thought. The debate between formalists on one hand, and realists on the other, concerns how law should solve problems.7 The rise of legal formalism in the nineteenth century resulted from the confluence of three factors in antebellum America. First, the law was seen as an objective, apolitical system. Second, there was a convergence of interest between powerful commercial and entrepreneurial interests on one hand and the elite of the legal profession on the other. Third, these interests wished to freeze legal doctrine and conceive of law as a fixed “system of logically deducible rules.”8

(p.6) The influence of Harvard Law School within this deliberation cannot be underestimated. Harvard is credited with establishing the first modern American law school. From 1870 to 1895, Christopher Columbus Langdell served as its dean, and was highly influential in shaping the “structure and content” of other American law schools.9 Langdell focused on appellate court case analysis,10 which emphasized the connections between rules of law and case holdings,11 thereby reinforcing the notion that law was a self-contained system where decisions flowed from a finite number of discoverable and seminal concepts.12 In 1873, the appointment of James Barr Ames as an assistant professor at Harvard Law School helped transform this method into a sacred “faith.”13 Harvard’s size and influence had a tremendous impact on other university-affiliated law schools.14 As such, many law schools emulated Harvard’s academic approach.15

Langdell and Ames helped to create a conservative mode of thinking that suggested innovations must be reconciled with existing legal principles.16 In this “formalist” approach, legal problem solving takes place, in total, within the realm of law. As such, formalists demarcate the realm of the law from that of other disciplines and bodies of knowledge. It is this line-drawing in epistemological sand that pushes the formalist to posit that legal rules are the sin qua non of problem solving.17

In contrast, legal “realism” sets forth three general maxims. First, it articulates that the boundaries of law should not be rigid. Rather, law is a multidisciplinary enterprise. Toward that end, other disciplines, namely the social sciences, are indispensable to legal problem solving. Second, legal realism holds skepticism toward the value of rules. From this standpoint, rules are of limited value in predicting what problem solvers will do or prescribing what they should do. Hence, rules may be abstracted from the real world in ways that do not cohere with actual experience, thereby undermining problem-solving efforts. Third, legal realism is more holistic in the analysis of context—many issues outside of formal legal contexts are germane to the outcomes of legal theorizing.18

There were several precursors to the realist movement. Oliver Wendell Holmes highlighted the real world aspect of the law when he noted that the “life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”19 Holmes also emphasized how extralegal factors hold tremendous bearing on the law. Holmes did not simply contend that social science was important in order to understand the law,20 rather he contended that contemporary pupils’ focus on black-letter law would give way to a legal field wherein “the man of the future is the man of statistics and the master of economics.”21 Benjamin Cardozo was the first to speak to the various modes of judicial thinking that were not wholly consistent with traditional, formalistic logic. Among them, according to Cardozo, was the sociological approach—a gap-filler,22 insofar as he believed the judge should employ (p.7) the law as a means to an end—for the “good of the collective body.”23 Roscoe Pound became the immediate precursor to the realists.24 Generally, Pound be-lieved in an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the law.25 In 1905, he called for a philosophy of law founded on social and political science.26 In 1910, he pled for law students to be trained in sociology, economics, and politics in order to fit new generations of lawyers to not simply render good service but “to lead the people.”27 That same year, he urged scholars not only to study “law on the books” but also to study “law in action.”28 In the 1911 and 1912 issues of the Harvard Law Review, Pound announced and defined a vision of “Sociological Jurisprudence.”29 Not surprisingly, Pound is described as one who emphasized the “social effects of law and to relate legal thinking to the social sciences.”30

In 1916, Thomas Swan assumed the deanship at Yale Law School, and by November of that year, he proposed to Yale’s president that the law school should expand into the Yale School of Law and Jurisprudence. The proposal seemingly reflected the views of Arthur Corbin and possibly Karl Llewellyn—professor and student, respectively.31 Both of these men became the chief architects of legal realism. Their work, and the work of others at Columbia and Yale law schools during the early to mid-twentieth century, helped to define a new agenda for legal education and practice.32

Legal realism is not a monolithic school of thought. In broad strokes, three schools of thought typify legal realism: (1) the critical oppositional variant that sought to expose the contradictions in classical legal formalism; (2) the social scientific variant that employed the insights and methods of the empirical sciences; and (3) the practical political variant that designed, made, and enforced reform policies.33 The major thrust of legal realism was to undermine Langdell’s idea that the law was an objective science based on clear-cut realities and rules.34 Harkening back to Pound’s distinction between law in books and law in action, the realists sought to determine what the law actually does to people and for people.35 As a result, they saw law not simply as an end in and of itself but as a means to various ends.36

The legal realists gave birth to several other movements; first among them was the law, policy, and science movement. Harold Lasswell and Myers McDougal advanced two elements of realism—the intersections of social science and law as well as law and public policy. McDougal and Lasswell viewed realism as a useful tool to debunk the law’s “old myths and lame theory,” but the two doubted that realism offered much to take its place.37 They noted:

[T]here is a limit beyond which the laborious demonstration of equivalencies in the language of the courts cannot go: eventually the critic must offer constructive guidance as to what and how courts and other decision-makers should decide the whole range of problems importantly affecting public order.38

(p.8) Thus, they set out to develop an affirmative jurisprudence that would both incorporate law and the social sciences and embody “democratic values.”39 Together, they attempted to synthesize legal realism and empirical legal scholarship, which would be capable of formulating, promoting, and critiquing policy.40

In 1964, Harry Ball, coordinator of the University of Wisconsin’s Sociology and Law Program, took the lead in advancing what would come to be known as the law and society movement. During the American Sociological Association (ASA) annual meeting, he invited all attendees who were interested in the intersection of sociology and law to a breakfast. Approximately ninety individuals attended the breakfast.41 From that effort, sociologists and law professors developed the Law and Society Association as a forum to promote the rigorous interdisciplinary study of law.42 Generally, the law and society field is the study of law in its social context.43 More specifically, the law and society movement’s goal is to employ a social scientific study of the law.44 However, if one is to study law as a social science, one must define law as more than a mere set of rules and principles. Thus, law and society sought to define law “as a social institution, as interacting behaviors, as ritual and symbol, as a reflection of interest group politics, [and] as a form of behavior modification.”45

Out of the law and society movement, “Critical Legal Studies” (CLS) emerged in the second half of the 1970s through the 1980s.46 Many of the CLS scholars ultimately disagreed with their law and society colleagues in two respects.47 First, CLS scholars put little faith in social science, whereas the realists endorse social science and employ its methodologies. Second, the ethical relativism endorsed by most CLS scholars is different from, and more coherent than, that of the realists.48 In the end, CLS is based on three propositions. First, law is indeterminate. Second, law is more accurately understood by paying attention to the context in which it is made. Third, law is politics.49

Sociological Schools of Thought

Anyone who has taken an introductory sociology course should remember the three formal schools of sociological thought: structural functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and social conflict, often credited to Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx, respectively. Rather than delineate the three analytic and methodological approaches of each—a task well rehearsed in diffuse and varied circles—we aim to illuminate a different divide in the production and use of sociological knowledge: that of the tension between “professional” and “public sociology.”

To begin, Western sociological thought has its genesis in the middle of the nineteenth century as a dialogue between reformist and philanthropic groups (p.9) on the one side, and intellectuals like Auguste Comte, who wished that the study of social life would mirror the supposed “value neutrality” of disciplines like mathematics and physics, on the other. From an early concentration on the study of modernity, industrialization, urbanization, social disintegration, and cohesion, post–Civil War sociologists began to explore various social problems via the collection and analysis of labor and poverty statistics. Sociologists demonstrated the plight of abject poverty that became a movement unto itself, thereby laying the foundations of a concern for the socially marginalized in early sociology.

However,astheforerunnerofthepresentAmericanSociologicalAssociation, the American Sociological Society (founded in 1905) began to implement the shift from sociology’s engagement with marginalized publics to that of private foundations and the state.50 As the “Roaring Twenties” began, the Rockefeller Foundation supported the Institute for Social and Religious Research, the University of Chicago, and the University of North Carolina. Simultaneously, President Herbert Hoover relied upon the work of sociologist William Ogburn to write Recent Social Trends in the United States.51 Federal influence continued during the Second World War when Samuel Stouffer was commissioned to write the 1949 multivolume study of morale in the army.52 After the war, corporate financing of survey research increased; typified by the work of Paul Lazarsfeld and the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University. As sociologist Michael Burawoy writes,

whether in the form of the brilliant and lucid erudition of Robert Merton (1949), the arcane and grand design of Talcott Parsons (1937, 1951), or the early statistical treatment of mobility and stratification, culminating in the work of Peter Blau and Otis Dudley Duncan (1967) [sociology became insular and specialized]. Reviewing the 1950s, Seymour Martin Lipset and Neil Smelser (1961: 1–8) could triumphantly declare sociology’s moral prehistory finally over and the path to science fully open. Not for the first time [Auguste] Comptean visions had gripped sociology’s professional elite.53

However, such insularity was resisted from within the discipline. In 1951 the “Society for the Study of Social Problems” (informally known as the “soul of the ASA”) was created, birthing the journal Social Problems in 1953. The development of a scientifically rigorous, yet morally directed, imperative within sociology was mutually reinforced by C. Wright Mills’s thesis of the “sociological imagination.” Moreover, W. E. B. Du Bois’s Pan-Africanism and anti-imperialism, Jane Addams’s focus on an international peace movement, and Robert Lynd’s chastisement of sociology’s narrow vision and claims of value neutrality, led to the ASA annual meetings of 1968, which were highlighted by Martin Nicholaus’s assault on “fat-cat sociology.”54

(p.10) The 1970s saw the publication of Joyce Ladner’s Death of White Sociology in 1973, which questioned many of the white normative assumptions dominant in the field,55 and in 1976, then ASA president Alfred McLung Lee’s address entitled, “Sociology for Whom?”56 (which piggybacked off of Robert Lynd’s 1939 question, “Sociology for What?”),57 asked whether sociologists were simply talking to themselves, or were committed to addressing an extra-academic audience. However, it was only recently in an address by Herbert Gans in 1988, that the term “public sociology” was first introduced.58 It was even more recently in 2004, that ASA president Michael Burawoy’s speech “For Public Sociology” advanced eleven theses (modeled after Karl Marx’s “Eleven Theses on Feuerbach”) that inspired a great deal of attention and tenacious debate.59

These debates have not been kind, and one’s support of “public sociology” can yield animosity or praise. For instance, the sociologist Sharon Hays stated, “If we aren’t doing public sociology, we’re just talking to each other. To claim to study society and to say that you needn’t bother to make your work relevant or accessible to social members—well, that seems to me just plain insane.”60 However, others take a different tack such as David Brady’s “Why Public Sociology May Fail,” Francois Nielsen’s “The Vacant ‘We’: Remarks on Public Sociology,” and Charles R. Tittle’s “The Arrogance of Public Sociology.”61 There have been symposia on public sociology in journals like Social Problems (February 2004), Social Forces (June 2004), and Critical Sociology (Summer 2005), departmental foci on public sociology like that of Berkeley and Minnesota, and the publication of The Public Sociologies Reader edited by Judith Blau and Keri Iyall Smith, Public Sociology: The Contemporary Debate edited by Larry Nichols, and Public Sociology: Fifteen Eminent Sociologists Debate Politics and the Profession in the Twenty-first Century edited by Dan Clawson and colleagues.62 These varied actions show that sociologists are wrestling with the issue of sociological knowledge in the public sphere.

Taking these debates as a starting point, we believe that there are significant limits to engaging in only a professional scholastic project about BGLOs that speaks only in elitist circles or with methods that are impenetrable to those without rigorous scholastic training. Furthermore, such limitations betray a significant aspect of the purpose of BGLOs: to promote justice, equality, and education. Our interpretations of these debates seem at odds with the direction of much of academe. While many sociologists reiterate jargon that emphasizes an ever-widening chasm of inequality and entrenched domination, we are ironically overwhelmed by the fact that very few show how their scholarship can be put to work for the subjects they study. In this vein, following the sociologist Dorothy Smith, we advocate sociology “for” people rather than “of ” people.63 Yet, some seem threatened by our proposal. Let us be clear. Embracing “public sociology” does not mean abandoning standards, discarding practices of merit, or exploiting BGLOs for personal gain. It might be easy to use a BGLO soapbox (p.11) to grasp public acclaim, to anoint oneself as the BGLO expert, to engage in polemic discourse for the sake of igniting controversy, or to offer rhetorical flourishes and sound bites if one is a clever wordsmith. We distinguish between the “masses” and the “public,” just as C. Wright Mills did; in the former are those who seek affirmation for what they are already doing, while in the latter are those who seek civic engagement around important social issues. Moreover, we do not collapse the scientific enterprise into moral idealism. While some believe that a public approach will pollute the objectivity of science, we assert that all scientific findings and analyses are inescapably intertwined with the economic, political, and cultural systems and interests in which they are embedded. This is not a new debate, the objectivity/value dispute rages on elsewhere and shows no apparent signs of ebbing. All this is to say, we find no requirement to “dumb-down” scholarship or to popularize it within a dominant fad. Rather, lucid analysis, accessibility, sincerity, and candor in scholarship are what matters. And they matter for pragmatic reasons.

Over the past quarter century, gains in civil rights have been heavily counter-acted and reversed by huge market expansion and the normalization of a take-no-prisoners, neoliberal economic logic. Moreover, a growing politically conservative ethos is viciously attacking human rights and their guardian organizations, such as BGLOs. In sum, a public sociology is in order. Such a paradigm is based on five propositions: (1) the development of rigorous, empirical, critical, and accessible publications; (2) the growth of teaching opportunities that can be implemented at various levels that transcend the traditions of “town and gown”; (3) the dissemination of ideas that result in scientific and cultural literacy that in turn contribute to a growing democratic discourse; (4) programs that result in relevant policy in advice that can be pragmatically implanted in order to better the subjects of study; and (5) better functioning institutions, such as university departments, professional associations, and scholastic books and journals.

Is a Public-Realist BGLO Scholarship Possible?

BGLO formalistic and professional thinking is best seen with regard to the debate—or lack thereof—surrounding the topic of hazing, pledging, and the membership intake process (MIP). In 1990, the “traditional” patterns of pledging were replaced by the MIP when the leaders of the individual members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) laid down a relatively undemocratically promulgated decision. In brief, the long-standing tradition of pledging was replaced with a three-day to three-week MIP composed of classroom-like settings of instruction and tests. Many BGLO members are of the attitude that the move should be followed blindly, while others remain decidedly opposed (p.12) and have vowed to continue the pledging process as a collectively secret tradition that most know occurs, but of which few openly speak.

As a result, many in the former camp argue that the issues of BGLO hazing would resolve themselves if members simply abided by the rules unquestioningly, without attention to why these rules and methods are manifest in their present fashion, in whose interests they really serve, what the policy goals of MIP are, and whether those goals have actually been met. Such members, BGLO administrators, and a large contingent of nonmember academic sectors—let us call them “professional formalists”—do not consider, or at the least do not act on their consideration with any great effect, whether MIP actually undermines the ultimate goals and mission of BGLOs. More broadly, BGLO professional formalists are disinclined from making connections with vast bodies of knowledge from a variety of disciplines that can be used to advance a critical knowledge of BGLOs.

In contrast, BGLO “public realists” are interested in (1) how a variety of disciplines may help them advance the interests of their organizations and those for whom they advocate, (2) analyzing policy goals behind the rules within the organizations to determine if the rules help actualize those goals, and (3) critiquing not only the professional formalistic approach but also BGLOs themselves in an effort to strengthen these organizations. These elements are important within the framework of such democratic institutions. Members serve the legislative branch of BGLOs through their delegates. And an informed body of members, like an informed legislature, makes for a more effective government.

An example of a public-realist approach to the MIP issue might be observed along a number of axes. Formalists argue against a broad debate and revisiting the issue; public realists seek public dialogue and resolution. Formalists believe dialogue need not occur, because there is a rule in place prohibiting further revision of the process. The rule is the “end-all, be-all,” the ultimate direction of problem solving. Formalists articulate a rationale that organizational leadership has the last say on the rule and that rules were instituted to stave off litigation and protect initiate safety. Public realists look behind the rule to determine if it comports with a rational understanding of organizational rules that have more primacy—that is, does it comport with the respective organization constitutions? Is it democratically promulgated? Furthermore, does it cohere with higher ideals of the organization—development of personal excellence, fictive kinship ties, and commitment to community uplift? For the public realists, empirical observation and informed theorizing can help answer this question. As to whether MIP may actually stave off litigation and saves lives, public realists eschew wishful thinking and pronouncements absent data. They look, instead, to how litigation, injuries, and deaths have been altered by MIP: whether MIP remedied, left unaltered, or exacerbated the issue. Formalists hide from (p.13) inconvenient truths and those that reside outside of their intellectual and experiential comfort zones. Public realists seek answers anywhere they may lay.

Our research on hazing rests on a burgeoning body of scholarship that deals with the intersection of hazing, identity, and culture, and does not simply pathologize those who fail to adhere to laws that they had no voice in implementing in the first place. Moreover, the public-realist study of BGLO violence was itself inspired by landmark studies of other “public realists” such as the insights of the critical theorist Jürgen Habermas in Ricky Jones’s Black Haze as well as various psychological and cultural theorists in Jones’s profound essay in The Hazing Reader. Public-realist studies took place via the insights of the theorist Michel Foucault in Matthew W. Hughey’s critique of the claim that BGLOs are little more than “educated gangs,” and in the deep historical analysis that traces pledging to both ancient African and European traditions in the work of Tamara Brown, Gloria Dickinson, Sandra Posey, and Carol Branch.64 Such scholarship is motivated by the concern for meaning and process endemic to the “cultural turn,” that was itself a partial result of the public-realist influence upon the academy. The fact that literature on this topic neither falls into a romantic conceptualization of BGLOs, nor simply pathologizes their actions for failing to jettison traditions and practices crucial to their identity, means that a public-realist BGLO approach is not only possible, it is already underway. The question is whether it will take root within BGLO’s everyday practice.

Drawing from legal and sociological frameworks, we dedicate a great deal of our scholarship to addressing topics vital to BGLOs in order to contribute to the growing academic discourse and developing modes of scholastic inquiry dedicated to BGLOs.65 Moreover, we have brought many of the insights gleaned in academic studies to various public venues, such as Perspectives and Essentials, the Association of Fraternity Advisors’ two official outlets, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Ebony, The Black College Wire, and even the official organs of BGLOs themselves.66 A robust public-realist approach to BGLOs that manifests itself in the continued critical and empirical studies of BGLOs will help to strengthen the voice to BGLOs while critiquing their shortcomings; it will also demand that a mainstream public take them as the serious political and human rights vehicles that they can be. Without such a public intellectual framework, BGLOs will become further marginalized in today’s social order, emerging only as commodities for the marketing of poorly constructed and caricatured films about stepping or over-priced retail specialty shops that trade in the promotion of Greek-letter license plates and line jackets.

While the public-realist paradigm is instrumental in helping to constitute BGLOs as self-determinative entities in their own right, we have also prompted young BGLO members’ self-consciousness as embattled survivors of a society that would say they are unimportant today or even worse, never were and never will be. More than that, we can say that the broader publicity given to BGLOs (p.14) and their struggles with the violence of hazing have helped other organizations, writers, and activists to focus their attention on the problems of hazing and abuse. Together, we are starting to open up a dialogue that is a bit more sophisticated than simply passing a law and expecting legal dogma to work like a magic wand.

Within this Book

We are proud of the authors and contributors assembled herein. For many of them, their works were labors of both love and patience. In what follows, we briefly cover each of the chapters and alert the reader to the distinguished contributors who have read each of the chapters and written about how and why each chapter contains significance for us today. Their remarks are placed at the end of each chapter.

Marybeth Gasman provides us with an overview of how BGLOs made significant contributions to the civil rights movement, as well as how they embodied substantial contradictions. She argues that while the BGLOs helped to promote economic empowerment, community service, and a sense of racial pride, they also reproduced much of the same class elitism that wreaked havoc on the black lower class, which they were supposedly serving. While historical in substance, her words find poignancy in our contemporary moment. Moving from the macro to the micro, Yolanda Y. Johnson interrogates the life of Loraine R. Green, the second national president of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Her life stands as an excellent example of early public sociology and fits well with our previous discussion of how one merges academia with activism. Chapter 4 explores the resurgence of religion and its intersection with BGLO organizing. In this vein, Kenneth I. Clarke Sr. and Tamara L. Brown demonstrate how BGLOs stand as diverse theological-political institutions that destabalize the claim that they are either incompatible with a Judeo-Christian belief system or that BGLO principles and practices emerged whole cloth from the same.

In shifting gears to examine the gender politics of black fraternalism, T. Elon Dancy II affords an examination of the intersection between student identity, masculinity, and the processes by which black male Greek students labor to construct a meaningful identity. In particular, and despite dominant discourses concerning black fraternities, Dancy does an excellent job of showing how black fraternities operate as important sites of production for a kind of black masculinity that neither collapses easily into that of a “thug,” nor becomes that of an aloof and apolitical student. In the following chapter, Reynaldo Anderson, Paul M. Buckley, and Natalie T. J. Tindall take up the very fraternity stereotypes that Dancy’s subjects must navigate. Examining the tropes of the “Man’s Man,” “Ladies’ Man,” and “Gentleman” as they relate to Omega Psi Phi, Kappa Alpha (p.15) Psi, and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternities, they demonstrate how these relatively newfound cultural images are partially propelled by the racist imagery of black men as animals. In so doing, the authors provide a clarion call for a reexamination of such imagery and in whose interests such iconography may work.

As a bookend to that section, chapters 7 and 8 move to the topic of racial identity and racism. Edith Wen-Chu Chen examines the rather taboo topic of nonblack members of BGLOs through a case study of Asian American women in a black sorority. Also, Shanette C. Porter and Gregory S. Parks offer a treatise on unconscious antiblack bias held by BGLO members. In the former, Chen argues that white racism and supremacy drove Asian American women to seek membership in black sororities, while these women also must deal with the effects of white supremacy as manifest in social cleavages aligned with class and skin-color divisions. In the latter, Porter and Parks show the surprising results of an important study. Despite the hopes that BGLOs would afford some protection from the effects of antiblack ideology, Porter and Parks empirically demonstrate that BGLO members adopt many of the same pro-white biases as nonmembers. Accordingly, such a finding begs the question: what should BGLOs do to more directly confront the social and psychological effects of white supremacy on the members and others to whom they are to serve?

In moving to the arena of popular culture production and reception, Robin Means Coleman examines the Delta Sigma Theta sorority’s attempt to counter society’s antiblack biases through their production and release of Countdown to Kusini in 1976. Resulting in a series of victories and tragic defeats, the story of Kusini now stands as a testament to how BGLOs might endeavor to confront racism via popular culture in the future. Following in the theme of silver-screen productions, Matthew W. Hughey interrogates the recent film Stomp the Yard. Bringing critical sociological analysis to bear on “sounds and sophistication of stepping” as exemplified in the film, Hughey argues that the film perpetuates a set of mythologies about race, class, urban settings, schools, and the memory of the civil rights movement. In so doing, the film transforms these identities and memories into a kind of shallow and hallow commodity that dulls the sharp edge of BGLOs’ past and present activism. Shifting from cultural production to the everyday reception and performance of identity, Marcia Hernandez aptly demonstrates how black sorority women engage in “appearance enforcement” to challenge the negative images of black womanhood that are propagated throughout popular culture. Yet, such resistance is particularly double-edged—in refusing to succumb to the dominant images of black women as either “mammies” or “jezebels,” many employ harsh class distinctions and entrenched “us versus them” worldviews.

The next section addresses what is arguably one of the most important topics endemic to the present, and future, of BGLO life and organizing—hazing and pledging. In a debate drowning in vociferous and emotional opinions on (p.16) every imaginable dimension of the issue, both Dwayne J. Scott and Dara Aquila Govan bring empirical social science and legal reasoning to bear on the issues. In this sense, both chapters represent a refreshing change from the dominant opinion-driven tone and timbre of the conversation. Their chapters stand as a testament to why we should bring diverse empirically driven answers to bear on a literal life-or-death problem for BGLOs. First, Scott illuminates how both undergraduate and alumna members interpret hazing as either a positive or negative practice depending on whether such activities will support their organizations’ principles of brother/sister-hood, leadership, scholarship, achievement, and community service. This finding throws into relief the common claim that those who “haze” are doing so because of “bad values” or a pathological penchant for power. Moreover, in questioning the connection between such vice and virtue, Scott’s work shows that BGLOs must do a better job in not just “forbidding hazing” but also in allowing for differing forms of praxis to achieve those principles. Hence, the solution may not be a shorter membership intake process, but a longer more intensive process that teaches adherence to principles through nonabusive means. Second, Dara Aquila Goven, a legal scholar, argues that BGLOs should return to “pledging,” but a much more enlightened kind. Goven shows that without addressing these issues pragmatically, with the knowledge that the current membership intake system is not working and that many still pledge and haze “underground,” BGLOs may soon reach financial ruin, a crucial preamble to closing their doors. To avoid such an end, Goven argues that BGLOs must (1) engage in more dialogue about membership intake, (2) perform organizational studies to gauge “acceptable” components of the process, (3) share such information with the general bodies of each fraternity and sorority in order to reach democratic consensus, (4) revisit and possibly raise the standards for membership selection, and (5) strengthen the current anti-hazing policies and procedures. We agree that such steps are, at the least, a necessary beginning.

In the last section of the book, Terrell L. Strayhorn, Fred McCall, and Stephanie M. McClure examine the heart of BGLOs—their everyday life on college campuses. First, Strayhorn and McCall compare and contrast BGLOs at predominantly white institutions (PWIs) and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). In examining data from publications and students’ own words, we learn about how intrinsic/extrinsic motivations, knowledge acquisition, investments, and benefits all vary when compared to joining a BGLO at a PWI or an HBCU. By illuminating the contexts surrounding why people join, we learn a lot about how students may be socialized differently and seek different means and ends in regard to their choice of BGLO. McClure analyzes survey and focus group data in regard to how Greek membership impacts student satisfaction for both black and white students. Despite the fact that BGLO (p.17) members have a support system, McClure finds that African Americans are in dire need of academic support systems. This gestures toward an important realization, that the trials and tribulations of BGLOs do not occur in a vacuum, but are connected to the support systems, or lack thereof, made available to students.

Conclusion

Black Greek-Letter Organizations 2.0: New Directions in the Study of African American Fraternities and Sororities presents a map of BGLOs’ lived responses to the social exigencies of the last one hundred years. Beginning with the turn of the twentieth century, BGLOs were birthed in the shadow of freshly new post-emancipation and reconstruction national projects that were characterized by retrenched white nationalist and supremacist movements and Jim Crow policies that disenfranchised African Americans via poll taxes and literary requirements.67 However, BGLOs paradoxically grew even while members enlisted in and supported the United States in the First World War and they flourished during the Harlem Renaissance that no doubt would have failed to occur without BGLO members such as Alain Leroy Locke (Phi Beta Sigma), James Weldon Johnson (Phi Beta Sigma), Zora Neale Hurston (Zeta Phi Beta), W. E. B. Du Bois (Alpha Phi Alpha), Marian Anderson (Alpha Kappa Alpha), Langston Hughes (Omega Psi Phi), and many others. BGLOs’ collective function as a haven of brotherhood and support during the Great Depression of the 1930s, their commitment of soldiers to the Second World War, and their unparalleled support through economic and human capital during the civil rights movement laid a strong foundation that enabled their quick mobilization for the “Jena Six” in Louisiana in late 2007.68

This project not only opens up the developing discourse on BGLOs, but also presents a nuanced reading of the cultural, social, and political situations of African Americans throughout history and today. Hence, the overall question this volume attempts to answer is: How can we reframe BGLOs in order to rethink the dialectic between theory and action for today? By thinking and working through BGLOs in such a manner, this project seeks to widen new interdisciplinary horizons in the African American fraternal tradition by not only scrutinizing BGLOs and opening new intellectual insights, but also by reflexively gesturing toward the identification of BGLOs’ problems and the pragmatic solutions to those tribulations.

(p.18) Notes

(1) . Gregory S. Parks, “Introduction: Toward a Critical Scholarship,” Black Greek-Letter Organizations in the 21st Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun, ed. Gregory S. Parks (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008), 1–16.

(2) . Laura Morgan Roberts and Lynn Perry Wooten, “Exploring Black Greek-Letter Organizations Through a Positive Organizing Lens,” in Black Greek-Letter Organizations in the 21st Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun, ed. Gregory S. Parks (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008), 273–88.

(3) . Studies of residential segregation generally rely on one or more of six measures, each of which captures a different dimension of the spatial distribution of groups. Evenness, measured as the index of dissimilarity, describes the degree to which a group is evenly distributed across neighborhoods or tracts. Isolation is interpreted as the percentage of the same race in the average group member’s neighborhood or tract. The inverse of isolation is exposure, interpreted as the average probability of contact with a person of another racial comparison group. These are the most commonly reported measures. The other three measures are concentration (a group’s degree of density), clustering (proximity to the central business district), and centralization (the contiguity of their neighborhoods). See Nancy A. Denton, “Are African Americans Still Hypersegregated?” Residential Apartheid: The American Legacy, ed. Robert Bullard, Charles Lee, and J. Eugene Grigsby (Los Angeles: UCLA Center for African American Studies, 1994), and Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton, American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993).

(4) . Douglas S. Massey, Categorically Unequal: The American Stratification System (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2007).

(5) . Devah Pager, “The Mark of a Criminal Record,” American Journal of Sociology 108, no. 5 (2003): 937–75. Devah Pager and Lincoln Quillian, “Walking the Talk: What Employers Say Versus What They Do,” American Sociological Review 70, no. 3 (2005): 355–80.

(6) . Cornel West, American Evasion of Philosophy (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 5.

(7) . Robert L. Hayman Jr., Nancy Levit, and Richard Delgado, Jurisprudence: Classical and Contemporary: From Natural Law to Postmodernism, 2nd ed. (Los Angeles: West Group Publishing, 1995), 156.

(8) . Morton J. Horowitz, “The Rise of Legal Formalism,” American Journal of Legal History 19 (1975): 256.

(9) . See Joel Seligman, The High Citadel: The Influence of Harvard Law School (Burlington, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1978), 20; Alfred Z. Reed, Training for the Public Profession of the Law: Historical Development and Principal Contemporary Problems of Legal Education in the United States with Some Account of the Conditions in England and Canada (New York: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1921), 458; and Robert Stevens, Law School: Legal Education in America from the 1850s to the 1980s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983), 39.

(10) . Stevens, Law School, 35–36.

(11) . Thomas C. Grey, “Langdell’s Orthodoxy,” University of Pittsburg Law Review 45 (1983): 2, note 6.

(12) . Hayman Jr. et al., Jurisprudence, 158.

(13) . Stevens, Law School, 38.

(p.19) (14) . Reed, Training for the Public Profession of the Law, 458.

(15) . Stevens, Law School, 39.

(16) . Mark V. Tushnet, The NAACP Legal Strategy against Segregated Education, 1925– 1950 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987), 118.

(17) . Hayman Jr. et al., Jurisprudence, 157–58.

(18) . Ibid.

(19) . Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., The Common Law (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1881), 1.

(20) . Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., “The Profession of the Law,” in The Collected Works of Justice Holmes: Complete Public Writings and Selected Judicial Opinions of Oliver Wendell Holmes, ed. Sheldon M. Novick (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 472.

(21) . Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., “The Path of the Law,” in Collected Legal Papers (New York: Harcourt Brace & Howe, 1920), 167.

(22) . Benjamin N. Cardozo, The Nature of the Judicial Process (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1921, 1949), 69, 71.

(23) . Ibid., 72, 102.

(24) . G. Edward White, “From Sociological Jurisprudence to Realism: Jurisprudence and Social Change in Early Twentieth-Century America,” Virginia Law Review 58 (1972): 999.

(25) . Michael Ray Hill, “Roscoe Pound and American Sociology: A Study in Archival Frame Analysis, Sociobiography, and Sociological Jurisprudence” (Ph.D. diss., University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1989), 386–576.

(26) . Roscoe Pound, “Do We Need a Philosophy of Law?” Columbia Law Review (1905): 339, 344, 351.

(27) . Jerold L. Auerbach, Unequal Justice: Lawyers and Social Change in Modern America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), 82–83.

(28) . Roscoe Pound, “Law in Books and Law in Action,” American Law Review 44 (1910): 12.

(29) . N. E. H. Hull, Roscoe Pound & Karl Llewellyn: Searching for an American Jurisprudence (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 81–85; David Wigdor, Roscoe Pound: Philosopher of Law (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1974), 183–205; Roscoe Pound, “The Scope and Purpose of Sociological Jurisprudence,” Harvard Law Review 24 (1911): 591; Roscoe Pound, “The Scope and Purpose of Sociological Jurisprudence,” Harvard Law Review 25 (1912): 489 [hereinafter Pound, “The Scope and Purpose” (1912)].

(30) . Auerbach, Unequal Justice, 149. For a more in-depth look at Pound’s impact on the “realists,” see Wilfred E. Rumble Jr., American Legal Realism, Reform, and the Judicial Process (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1968), 9–20. See also Terry Di Filippo, “Roscoe Pound’s Jurisprudence: Interest Theory in Legal Philosophy” (Ph.D. diss., SUNY Buffalo, August 1987), 256–315.

(31) . Stevens, Law School, 135.

(32) . Laura Kalman, Legal Realism at Yale, 1927–1960 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986), 67–97.

(33) . Patrick Ewick, Robert A. Kagan, and Austin Sarat, “Legacies of Legal Realism: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Law,” in Social Science, Social Policy, and the Law, ed. Patrick Ewick, Robert A. Kagan, and Austin Sarat (New York: Russell Sage, 1999), 1, 30, note 3.

(34) . Stevens, Law School, 156.

(p.20) (35) . Karl N. Llewellyn, “Some Realism About Realism: Responding to Dean Pound,” Harvard Law Review 44 (1931): 1222–24.

(36) . Ibid.

(37) . James E. Herget, American Jurisprudence, 1870–1970: A History (Houston, Tex.: Rice University Press, 1990), 220; Harold Lasswell and Myers McDougal, “Jurisprudence in a Policy-Oriented Perspective,” University of Florida Law Review 19 (1966): 486, 495 (noting the realists’ “vivid assault” on traditional jurisprudence); Myers McDougal, Harold D. Lasswell, and W. Michael Reisman, “Theories About International Law: Prologue to a Configurative Jurisprudence,” Virginia Journal of International Law 8 (1968): 188, 261 (noting realism’s failure to provide a “positive systematic theory”).

(38) . Myers McDougal and Harold Lasswell, “Criteria for a Theory about Law,” Southern California Law Review 44 (1971): 362, 373.

(39) . Lasswell and McDougal, “Jurisprudence in a Policy-Oriented Perspective,” 495. See also Laura Kalman, Legal Realism at Yale, 177.

(40) . Herget, American Jurisprudence, 220–21. Stevens, Law School, 265.

(41) . Felice J. Levine, “Goose Bumps and ‘The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life’ in Sociolegal Studies: After Twenty-five Years,” Law & Society Review 24 (1990): 7, 10.

(42) . See White, “From Realism to Critical Legal Studies,” 830. See David M. Trubek, “Back to the Future: The Short, Happy Life of the Law and Society Movement,” Florida State University Law Review 18 (1990): 5–7.

(43) . Frank Munger, “Mapping Law and Society,” in Crossing Boundaries: Traditions and Transformations in Law and Society Research, ed. Austin Sarat (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1998), 25.

(44) . See Lawrence M. Friedman, “The Law and Society Movement,” Stanford Law Review 38 (1986): 763, 766.

(45) . Trubek, “Back to the Future,” 6.

(46) . Laura Kalman, “The Dark Ages,” in History of the Yale Law School, ed. Anthony T. Kronman (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2004), 203. See Kalman, The Strange Career of Legal Liberalism, 82 (noting David Trubek’s ties to both the law and society movement and Critical Legal Studies).

(47) . See White, “From Realism to Critical Legal Studies,” 834.

(48) . Richard Nunan, “Critical Legal Parracide, or: What’s So Bad About Warmed-Over Legal Realism?” in Radical Critiques of the Law, ed. Stephen M. Griffin and Robert C. L. Moffat (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1997), 33.

(49) . See Mark Tushnet, “Critical Legal Studies: A Political History,” Yale Law Journal 100 (1991): 1516.

(50) . “Notes and Memoranda,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 20, no. 2 (February 1906): 301–3.

(51) . William Ogburn, Recent Social Trends in the United States: Report of the President’s Research Committee on Social Trends (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1933).

(52) . Samuel Stouffer, Studies in Social Psychology in World War II: The American Soldier (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1949).

(53) . Michael Burawoy, “2004 American Sociological Association Presidential Address: For Public Sociology,” British Journal of Sociology 56, no. 2 (2005): 259–94, 260.

(54) . John J. Cerullo, “The Epistemic Turn: Critical Sociology and the “Generation of ’68,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 8, no. 1 (September 1994): 169–81.

(p.21) (55) . Joyce A. Ladner, The Death of White Sociology (New York: Random House, 1973).

(56) . Chet Ballard, “An Epistle on the Origin and Early History of the Association for Humanist Sociology,” American Sociologist 33, no. 3 (December 2002): 37–61.

(57) . Jonathan H. Turner, “American Sociology in Chaos: Differentiation without Integration,” American Sociologist 37, no. 2 (June 2006): 15–29.

(58) . Herbert Gans, “Sociology in America: The Discipline and the Public,” American Sociological Review 54, no. 1 (February 1989): 1–16.

(59) . We impute that Burawoy intentionally modeled his 2004 ASA presidential speech after Karl Marx’s infamous indictment of Feuerbach, as Marx’s grand theory has found fruition in the “scientific socialist” paradigms of critical and public sociologies that aim to illuminate inequality, cultural contradictions, and oppression. The parallel did, however, strike a discordant note among some who recoiled from Burawoy comparing himself with Marx.

(60) . Dan Clawson, Robert Zussman, Joya Misra, Naomi Gerstel, Randall Stokes, Douglas L. Anderton, and Michael Burawoy, Public Sociology: Fifteen Eminent Sociologists Debate Politics and the Profession in the Twenty-first Century (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007).

(61) . Advid Brady, “Why Public Sociology May Fail,” Social Forces 82 (2004): 1629– 38; Francois Nielsen, “The Vacant ‘We’: Remarks on Public Sociology,” Social Forces 82 (2004): 1619–27; Charles Tittle, “The Arrogance of Public Sociology,” Social Forces 82 (2004): 1639–43.

(62) . Judith Blau and Keri Iyall Smith, The Public Sociologies Reader (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006); Larry Nichols, Public Sociology: The Contemporary Debate (Edison, N.J.: Transaction Publishers); Clawson et al., Public Sociology.

(63) . Dorothy Smith, Institutional Ethnography: A Sociology for People (Oxford: AltaMira, 2005).

(64) . Ricky Jones, Black Haze: Violence, Sacrifice, and Manhood in Black Greek-Letter Fraternities (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004); Ricky Jones, “Examining Violence in Black Fraternity Pledging,” in The Hazing Reader: Examining Violence in Black Fraternity Pledging, ed. Hank Nuwer (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004), 110–29; Matthew W. Hughey, “‘Cuz I’m Young and I’m Black and My Hat’s Real Low?’: A Critique of Black Greeks as ‘Educated Gangs,’” in Black Greek-Letter Organizations in the 21st Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun, ed. Gregory S. Parks (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008), 385–417; Gregory S. Parks and Tamara L. Brown, “‘In the Fell Clutch of Circumstance’: Pledging and the Black Greek Experience,” 437–64; “Pledged to Remember: African in the Life and Lore of Black Greek-Letter Organizations,” 11–36; Sandra M. Posey, “The Body Art of Brotherhood,” 269–94; Carol D. Branch, “Variegated Roots: The Foundations of Stepping,” in African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision, ed. Tamara L. Brown, Gregory S. Parks, and Clarenda M. Phillips (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2005).

(65) . Matthew W. Hughey, “Brotherhood or Brothers in the ’Hood? Debunking the ‘Educated Gang’ Thesis as Black Fraternity and Sorority Slander,” Race, Ethnicity, and Education 11, no. 4 (December 2008): 443–63; Matthew W. Hughey, “Virtual (Br)others and (Re)sisters: Authentic Black Fraternity and Sorority Identity on the Internet,” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 37, no. 5 (October 2008): 528–60; Matthew W. Hughey, “Crossing the Sands, Crossing the Color-Line: Non-Black members of Historically (p.22) Black Greek Organizations,” Journal of African American Studies 11, no. 1 (June 2007): 55–75; Matthew W. Hughey, “Rushing the Wall, Crossing the Sands: Cross-Racial Membership in U.S. College Fraternities & Sororities,” in Brothers and Sisters: Diversity in College Fraternities and Sororities, ed. G. S. Parks and C. Torbenson (Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2009), 307–64; Matthew W. Hughey, “Fraternities and Sororities,” in Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society, Vol. 1, ed. R. Schaefer (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Press, 2008), 508–12.

(66) . Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks, “The Education of the Black Fraternity and Sorority Advisor, Ten Critiques,” Perspectives (Spring 2008): 22–25; Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks, “Measuring Up: Twelve Steps Closer to a Solution on BGLO Hazing,” Essentials: A Publication for Members of the Association of Fraternity Advisors (October 2007); Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks, “Broken Bonds: Are Black Greek Organizations Making Themselves Irrelevant?” Diverse Issues in Higher Education 24, no. 9 (June 2007): 21; Gregory S. Parks, “Are Black ‘Greeks’ Relevant?: A Not-So-Simple Answer to a Not-So-Simple Question,” Ebony, October 2007, 142; Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks, “A Bleak Future for Black Greeks,” The Black College Wire, March 9, 2007; Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks, “African American Fraternities and Sororities: A Time for Collaborative Action,” AURORA: The Official Organ of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (Spring/Summer 2007): 26–27.

(67) . It is of critical importance and out of profound respectful remembrance that we point out that the first BGLO, Alpha Kappa Nu, was founded at Indiana University in 1903. That this event took place just forty years after the official end of slavery and within a nouveau social order of sharecropping, Jim Crow, and the rise of white nationalist and supremacist organizations (especially in Indiana) is a stark reminder of the struggles and obstacles these men undertook with the mission to “strengthen the negro voice” on campus and in the community. The roots of this organization stretch back to student literary organizations like the Henondelphisterian Society (in the 1820s), the Athenian and Philomathean Societies (in the 1830s), and the developing white Greek organizations like Phi Delta Theta (1849) that expanded to four fraternities by 1870. Just two decades later, black students started to enroll at Indiana University (the official record shows that three entered in 1890).

(68) . The “Jena Six” is the name given to a group of six black teenagers who were charged with fighting a white teenager in a high school in Jena, Louisiana, on December 4, 2006 (ironically, the centennial anniversary of Alpha Phi Alpha). The Jena Six case sparked protests by those viewing the arrests and subsequent charges, such as attempted murder, as excessive and racially discriminatory. The protesters believed that white Jena youths involved in other incidents were treated leniently. On September 20, 2007, between 10,000 and 20,000 protesters marched on Jena in what was described as the “largest civil rights demonstration in years.” BGLOs were a large contingent of the protest and were instrumental in raising awareness about their arrest and prosecution.

(p.23) Chapter One Commentary

In this chapter, Hughey and Parks bring to our attention the need for critical and empirical research on BGLOs. They assert that theoretical insights from the social sciences can further advance the legitimacy of BGLOs, especially in a society that is perceived by some as color-blind or post-racial. Moreover, the authors of this chapter contend that critical and empirical scholarship on BGLOs creates a knowledge base for these organizations to analyze its modern-day problems and explicitly capitalize on the lessons learned from its best practices.

As an illustration of the applicability of critical theories for studying BGLOs, Hughey and Parks examine how the fields of legal studies and sociology offer pragmatic application for studying BGLOs. Drawing from theoretical insights, the authors contrast the paradoxical tensions of formalism versus realism from a jurisprudence perspective, and the use of professional versus public sociology as lens for producing knowledge on BGLOs. From a jurisprudential school of thought, we learn that the formalism viewpoint suggests that innovations should be reconciled with legal principles. The formalism viewpoint is rigid and does not account for changes in societal values and norms. In contrast, legal realism provides us with a paradigm that sees the law as flexible with permeating boundaries that can transcend to solve current-day problems. Somewhat comparable to legal realism, pubic sociology moves beyond the confines of traditional academic thought to make research accessible for confronting the current challenges of society.

In the case of BGLOs, embracing a public-realist approach will enable these organizations to critically examine issues such as the membership intake process, and even their relevancy in today’s society. Take for example the membership intake process of BGLOs and the problematic hazing associated with it. Have leaders of BGLOs looked under the surface of hazing rules and drawn from research to understand the implications of its historical roots, psychological mindset, and sociological behavior? If so, I believe these organizations would (p.24) be in a better position to develop sustainable solutions for hazing. Similarly, many research disciplines provide a problem-solution–oriented framework for BGLOs to not only assess their relevancy, but to also develop futuristic thinking programs that live up to the vision of their founders.

As we can conclude from the chapter, research can propel BGLOs to move beyond the status quo of existence. Throughout their discourse, Hughey and Parks challenge us to employ research on BGLOs as a vehicle for framing thoughts and empowering actions. To take this challenge seriously, scholars studying topics germane to BGLOs must build a bridge that translates their research into relevant knowledge. However, this bridge is worthless if leaders of BGLOS are not willing to use and diffuse the knowledge throughout their organizations. Thus, it is time for both scholars and BGLOs to work collectively and seize the opportunity that intellectual insights can contribute to building extraordinary organizations.

Notes:

(1) . Gregory S. Parks, “Introduction: Toward a Critical Scholarship,” Black Greek-Letter Organizations in the 21st Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun, ed. Gregory S. Parks (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008), 1–16.

(2) . Laura Morgan Roberts and Lynn Perry Wooten, “Exploring Black Greek-Letter Organizations Through a Positive Organizing Lens,” in Black Greek-Letter Organizations in the 21st Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun, ed. Gregory S. Parks (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008), 273–88.

(3) . Studies of residential segregation generally rely on one or more of six measures, each of which captures a different dimension of the spatial distribution of groups. Evenness, measured as the index of dissimilarity, describes the degree to which a group is evenly distributed across neighborhoods or tracts. Isolation is interpreted as the percentage of the same race in the average group member’s neighborhood or tract. The inverse of isolation is exposure, interpreted as the average probability of contact with a person of another racial comparison group. These are the most commonly reported measures. The other three measures are concentration (a group’s degree of density), clustering (proximity to the central business district), and centralization (the contiguity of their neighborhoods). See Nancy A. Denton, “Are African Americans Still Hypersegregated?” Residential Apartheid: The American Legacy, ed. Robert Bullard, Charles Lee, and J. Eugene Grigsby (Los Angeles: UCLA Center for African American Studies, 1994), and Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton, American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993).

(4) . Douglas S. Massey, Categorically Unequal: The American Stratification System (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2007).

(5) . Devah Pager, “The Mark of a Criminal Record,” American Journal of Sociology 108, no. 5 (2003): 937–75. Devah Pager and Lincoln Quillian, “Walking the Talk: What Employers Say Versus What They Do,” American Sociological Review 70, no. 3 (2005): 355–80.

(6) . Cornel West, American Evasion of Philosophy (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 5.

(7) . Robert L. Hayman Jr., Nancy Levit, and Richard Delgado, Jurisprudence: Classical and Contemporary: From Natural Law to Postmodernism, 2nd ed. (Los Angeles: West Group Publishing, 1995), 156.

(8) . Morton J. Horowitz, “The Rise of Legal Formalism,” American Journal of Legal History 19 (1975): 256.

(9) . See Joel Seligman, The High Citadel: The Influence of Harvard Law School (Burlington, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1978), 20; Alfred Z. Reed, Training for the Public Profession of the Law: Historical Development and Principal Contemporary Problems of Legal Education in the United States with Some Account of the Conditions in England and Canada (New York: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1921), 458; and Robert Stevens, Law School: Legal Education in America from the 1850s to the 1980s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983), 39.

(10) . Stevens, Law School, 35–36.

(11) . Thomas C. Grey, “Langdell’s Orthodoxy,” University of Pittsburg Law Review 45 (1983): 2, note 6.

(12) . Hayman Jr. et al., Jurisprudence, 158.

(13) . Stevens, Law School, 38.

(p.19) (14) . Reed, Training for the Public Profession of the Law, 458.

(15) . Stevens, Law School, 39.

(16) . Mark V. Tushnet, The NAACP Legal Strategy against Segregated Education, 1925– 1950 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987), 118.

(17) . Hayman Jr. et al., Jurisprudence, 157–58.

(18) . Ibid.

(19) . Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., The Common Law (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1881), 1.

(20) . Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., “The Profession of the Law,” in The Collected Works of Justice Holmes: Complete Public Writings and Selected Judicial Opinions of Oliver Wendell Holmes, ed. Sheldon M. Novick (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 472.

(21) . Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., “The Path of the Law,” in Collected Legal Papers (New York: Harcourt Brace & Howe, 1920), 167.

(22) . Benjamin N. Cardozo, The Nature of the Judicial Process (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1921, 1949), 69, 71.

(23) . Ibid., 72, 102.

(24) . G. Edward White, “From Sociological Jurisprudence to Realism: Jurisprudence and Social Change in Early Twentieth-Century America,” Virginia Law Review 58 (1972): 999.

(25) . Michael Ray Hill, “Roscoe Pound and American Sociology: A Study in Archival Frame Analysis, Sociobiography, and Sociological Jurisprudence” (Ph.D. diss., University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1989), 386–576.

(26) . Roscoe Pound, “Do We Need a Philosophy of Law?” Columbia Law Review (1905): 339, 344, 351.

(27) . Jerold L. Auerbach, Unequal Justice: Lawyers and Social Change in Modern America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), 82–83.

(28) . Roscoe Pound, “Law in Books and Law in Action,” American Law Review 44 (1910): 12.

(29) . N. E. H. Hull, Roscoe Pound & Karl Llewellyn: Searching for an American Jurisprudence (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 81–85; David Wigdor, Roscoe Pound: Philosopher of Law (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1974), 183–205; Roscoe Pound, “The Scope and Purpose of Sociological Jurisprudence,” Harvard Law Review 24 (1911): 591; Roscoe Pound, “The Scope and Purpose of Sociological Jurisprudence,” Harvard Law Review 25 (1912): 489 [hereinafter Pound, “The Scope and Purpose” (1912)].

(30) . Auerbach, Unequal Justice, 149. For a more in-depth look at Pound’s impact on the “realists,” see Wilfred E. Rumble Jr., American Legal Realism, Reform, and the Judicial Process (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1968), 9–20. See also Terry Di Filippo, “Roscoe Pound’s Jurisprudence: Interest Theory in Legal Philosophy” (Ph.D. diss., SUNY Buffalo, August 1987), 256–315.

(31) . Stevens, Law School, 135.

(32) . Laura Kalman, Legal Realism at Yale, 1927–1960 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986), 67–97.

(33) . Patrick Ewick, Robert A. Kagan, and Austin Sarat, “Legacies of Legal Realism: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Law,” in Social Science, Social Policy, and the Law, ed. Patrick Ewick, Robert A. Kagan, and Austin Sarat (New York: Russell Sage, 1999), 1, 30, note 3.

(34) . Stevens, Law School, 156.

(p.20) (35) . Karl N. Llewellyn, “Some Realism About Realism: Responding to Dean Pound,” Harvard Law Review 44 (1931): 1222–24.

(36) . Ibid.

(37) . James E. Herget, American Jurisprudence, 1870–1970: A History (Houston, Tex.: Rice University Press, 1990), 220; Harold Lasswell and Myers McDougal, “Jurisprudence in a Policy-Oriented Perspective,” University of Florida Law Review 19 (1966): 486, 495 (noting the realists’ “vivid assault” on traditional jurisprudence); Myers McDougal, Harold D. Lasswell, and W. Michael Reisman, “Theories About International Law: Prologue to a Configurative Jurisprudence,” Virginia Journal of International Law 8 (1968): 188, 261 (noting realism’s failure to provide a “positive systematic theory”).

(38) . Myers McDougal and Harold Lasswell, “Criteria for a Theory about Law,” Southern California Law Review 44 (1971): 362, 373.

(39) . Lasswell and McDougal, “Jurisprudence in a Policy-Oriented Perspective,” 495. See also Laura Kalman, Legal Realism at Yale, 177.

(40) . Herget, American Jurisprudence, 220–21. Stevens, Law School, 265.

(41) . Felice J. Levine, “Goose Bumps and ‘The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life’ in Sociolegal Studies: After Twenty-five Years,” Law & Society Review 24 (1990): 7, 10.

(42) . See White, “From Realism to Critical Legal Studies,” 830. See David M. Trubek, “Back to the Future: The Short, Happy Life of the Law and Society Movement,” Florida State University Law Review 18 (1990): 5–7.

(43) . Frank Munger, “Mapping Law and Society,” in Crossing Boundaries: Traditions and Transformations in Law and Society Research, ed. Austin Sarat (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1998), 25.

(44) . See Lawrence M. Friedman, “The Law and Society Movement,” Stanford Law Review 38 (1986): 763, 766.

(45) . Trubek, “Back to the Future,” 6.

(46) . Laura Kalman, “The Dark Ages,” in History of the Yale Law School, ed. Anthony T. Kronman (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2004), 203. See Kalman, The Strange Career of Legal Liberalism, 82 (noting David Trubek’s ties to both the law and society movement and Critical Legal Studies).

(47) . See White, “From Realism to Critical Legal Studies,” 834.

(48) . Richard Nunan, “Critical Legal Parracide, or: What’s So Bad About Warmed-Over Legal Realism?” in Radical Critiques of the Law, ed. Stephen M. Griffin and Robert C. L. Moffat (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1997), 33.

(49) . See Mark Tushnet, “Critical Legal Studies: A Political History,” Yale Law Journal 100 (1991): 1516.

(50) . “Notes and Memoranda,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 20, no. 2 (February 1906): 301–3.

(51) . William Ogburn, Recent Social Trends in the United States: Report of the President’s Research Committee on Social Trends (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1933).

(52) . Samuel Stouffer, Studies in Social Psychology in World War II: The American Soldier (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1949).

(53) . Michael Burawoy, “2004 American Sociological Association Presidential Address: For Public Sociology,” British Journal of Sociology 56, no. 2 (2005): 259–94, 260.

(54) . John J. Cerullo, “The Epistemic Turn: Critical Sociology and the “Generation of ’68,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 8, no. 1 (September 1994): 169–81.

(p.21) (55) . Joyce A. Ladner, The Death of White Sociology (New York: Random House, 1973).

(56) . Chet Ballard, “An Epistle on the Origin and Early History of the Association for Humanist Sociology,” American Sociologist 33, no. 3 (December 2002): 37–61.

(57) . Jonathan H. Turner, “American Sociology in Chaos: Differentiation without Integration,” American Sociologist 37, no. 2 (June 2006): 15–29.

(58) . Herbert Gans, “Sociology in America: The Discipline and the Public,” American Sociological Review 54, no. 1 (February 1989): 1–16.

(59) . We impute that Burawoy intentionally modeled his 2004 ASA presidential speech after Karl Marx’s infamous indictment of Feuerbach, as Marx’s grand theory has found fruition in the “scientific socialist” paradigms of critical and public sociologies that aim to illuminate inequality, cultural contradictions, and oppression. The parallel did, however, strike a discordant note among some who recoiled from Burawoy comparing himself with Marx.

(60) . Dan Clawson, Robert Zussman, Joya Misra, Naomi Gerstel, Randall Stokes, Douglas L. Anderton, and Michael Burawoy, Public Sociology: Fifteen Eminent Sociologists Debate Politics and the Profession in the Twenty-first Century (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007).

(61) . Advid Brady, “Why Public Sociology May Fail,” Social Forces 82 (2004): 1629– 38; Francois Nielsen, “The Vacant ‘We’: Remarks on Public Sociology,” Social Forces 82 (2004): 1619–27; Charles Tittle, “The Arrogance of Public Sociology,” Social Forces 82 (2004): 1639–43.

(62) . Judith Blau and Keri Iyall Smith, The Public Sociologies Reader (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006); Larry Nichols, Public Sociology: The Contemporary Debate (Edison, N.J.: Transaction Publishers); Clawson et al., Public Sociology.

(63) . Dorothy Smith, Institutional Ethnography: A Sociology for People (Oxford: AltaMira, 2005).

(64) . Ricky Jones, Black Haze: Violence, Sacrifice, and Manhood in Black Greek-Letter Fraternities (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004); Ricky Jones, “Examining Violence in Black Fraternity Pledging,” in The Hazing Reader: Examining Violence in Black Fraternity Pledging, ed. Hank Nuwer (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004), 110–29; Matthew W. Hughey, “‘Cuz I’m Young and I’m Black and My Hat’s Real Low?’: A Critique of Black Greeks as ‘Educated Gangs,’” in Black Greek-Letter Organizations in the 21st Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun, ed. Gregory S. Parks (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008), 385–417; Gregory S. Parks and Tamara L. Brown, “‘In the Fell Clutch of Circumstance’: Pledging and the Black Greek Experience,” 437–64; “Pledged to Remember: African in the Life and Lore of Black Greek-Letter Organizations,” 11–36; Sandra M. Posey, “The Body Art of Brotherhood,” 269–94; Carol D. Branch, “Variegated Roots: The Foundations of Stepping,” in African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision, ed. Tamara L. Brown, Gregory S. Parks, and Clarenda M. Phillips (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2005).

(65) . Matthew W. Hughey, “Brotherhood or Brothers in the ’Hood? Debunking the ‘Educated Gang’ Thesis as Black Fraternity and Sorority Slander,” Race, Ethnicity, and Education 11, no. 4 (December 2008): 443–63; Matthew W. Hughey, “Virtual (Br)others and (Re)sisters: Authentic Black Fraternity and Sorority Identity on the Internet,” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 37, no. 5 (October 2008): 528–60; Matthew W. Hughey, “Crossing the Sands, Crossing the Color-Line: Non-Black members of Historically (p.22) Black Greek Organizations,” Journal of African American Studies 11, no. 1 (June 2007): 55–75; Matthew W. Hughey, “Rushing the Wall, Crossing the Sands: Cross-Racial Membership in U.S. College Fraternities & Sororities,” in Brothers and Sisters: Diversity in College Fraternities and Sororities, ed. G. S. Parks and C. Torbenson (Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2009), 307–64; Matthew W. Hughey, “Fraternities and Sororities,” in Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society, Vol. 1, ed. R. Schaefer (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Press, 2008), 508–12.

(66) . Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks, “The Education of the Black Fraternity and Sorority Advisor, Ten Critiques,” Perspectives (Spring 2008): 22–25; Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks, “Measuring Up: Twelve Steps Closer to a Solution on BGLO Hazing,” Essentials: A Publication for Members of the Association of Fraternity Advisors (October 2007); Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks, “Broken Bonds: Are Black Greek Organizations Making Themselves Irrelevant?” Diverse Issues in Higher Education 24, no. 9 (June 2007): 21; Gregory S. Parks, “Are Black ‘Greeks’ Relevant?: A Not-So-Simple Answer to a Not-So-Simple Question,” Ebony, October 2007, 142; Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks, “A Bleak Future for Black Greeks,” The Black College Wire, March 9, 2007; Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks, “African American Fraternities and Sororities: A Time for Collaborative Action,” AURORA: The Official Organ of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (Spring/Summer 2007): 26–27.

(67) . It is of critical importance and out of profound respectful remembrance that we point out that the first BGLO, Alpha Kappa Nu, was founded at Indiana University in 1903. That this event took place just forty years after the official end of slavery and within a nouveau social order of sharecropping, Jim Crow, and the rise of white nationalist and supremacist organizations (especially in Indiana) is a stark reminder of the struggles and obstacles these men undertook with the mission to “strengthen the negro voice” on campus and in the community. The roots of this organization stretch back to student literary organizations like the Henondelphisterian Society (in the 1820s), the Athenian and Philomathean Societies (in the 1830s), and the developing white Greek organizations like Phi Delta Theta (1849) that expanded to four fraternities by 1870. Just two decades later, black students started to enroll at Indiana University (the official record shows that three entered in 1890).

(68) . The “Jena Six” is the name given to a group of six black teenagers who were charged with fighting a white teenager in a high school in Jena, Louisiana, on December 4, 2006 (ironically, the centennial anniversary of Alpha Phi Alpha). The Jena Six case sparked protests by those viewing the arrests and subsequent charges, such as attempted murder, as excessive and racially discriminatory. The protesters believed that white Jena youths involved in other incidents were treated leniently. On September 20, 2007, between 10,000 and 20,000 protesters marched on Jena in what was described as the “largest civil rights demonstration in years.” BGLOs were a large contingent of the protest and were instrumental in raising awareness about their arrest and prosecution.