As a member of Greek life, I clicked on my Facebook notifications to find yet another fraternity party invitation. I viewed the event page to see what exactly Theta Xi was inviting me to this week, and what I found was confusing, disturbing and hurtful.
“World Star Hip Hop Presents: Hood Ratchet Thursday,” read the event title. The description went on to inform me that “bad bitches, white girls, basketball players, thugs, gangsters” and “ratchet pussy” (a new term to me) were all invited.
Scrolling down the event page, I was appalled by photos of Black men holding fistfuls of money and multiple comments made by people I’ve met and know stating, “BEST THEME EVER” and “I’m dressing as Lil’ Wayne/Nicki Minaj”.
This invite was sent to me because I’m a member of Greek life. As a member of Greek life I can only speak for myself, not my sorority or anyone with similar identities to my own. It was assumed that my member status negates me from being offended by such an oppressive and derogatory theme and the subsequent comments. It angers me that members of a community — that I often defend to others — could exploit the identities of students and faculty on this campus. It’s sad to see that list of Greek life members I defend shrink right before my eyes.
“Why can’t you just take the joke?” so many have already asked. I can’t take the joke because of the alarming number of fraternity brothers that have asked me if I’m from Detroit when I attend their events as one of the few women of color. I can’t take the joke because of the obscene number of times I’ve been asked to “twerk” and “dance” for these white men, because my Black identity obviously tells them I possess the inherent talent and desire to do so. I can’t take the joke because I don’t have the luxury to remove the labels of “hood,” “ratchet” or “bad bitch” after the party ends. The privileged students on this campus tie those labels to my identity because of my racial minority status. I can’t take the joke because racism and oppression are alive and well on this campus; a campus where I’m often the only person of color in a classroom. And when I speak in that classroom, what I have to say is taken as the narrative of every other Black woman these privileged students come in contact with.
So no, I cannot simply take the joke that Theta Xi thought was an appropriate way to invite the people they share this campus with, to have a nice time at their event. Theta Xi invited the wrong “bad bitch” to their party.
Their first mistake was allowing this incredibly offensive party theme to make its way to a Facebook invite that infiltrated our campus. Theta Xi’s second mistake was commenting and posting on the event page — making a mockery out of a culture they do not belong to. Their third mistake was inviting me; assuming that as a member of Greek life I would be a bystander, doing nothing to stop “Hood Ratchet Thursday” from going on without a hitch.
Erin Fischer is an LSA senior.