The Other Greek Experience: Being Black in a White Fraternity
There isn’t any half-stepping when it comes to joining a Greek organization, but in Dayton Collins’ organization, there isn’t any stepping at all. Collins, a junior majoring in Arts Application, is a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, one of the oldest Greek organizations in the world.
Like most African-Americans interested in Greek life, Collins initially had plans of joining one of the historically black Divine Nine organizations. However, when DKE offered him a leadership position within the organization, that all changed. “I was about to pledge a black fraternity, and [then] DKE came at me. The President wanted me to join and be the Vice President, so I did,” said Collins.
While he could still see himself stepping on a line somewhere, Collins is ultimately satisfied with being a member of DKE. Read below as he shares with us the biggest differences between white and black Greek life, and what its like to be black in white fraternity.
Nubian Message (NM) : Do you think it was easier getting into a white fraternity than a black one ?
Dayton Collins (DC) : Definitely. Forreal. Definitely [laughs]
NM: You said you were aware of other black fraternities, Did you ultimately decided to join DKE because they offered you such a great position ?
DC: I mean, it’s not just because of the position they offered me. I just knew it was an opportunity that was never gonna present itself again. That’s not just something you get offered all the time. So, I just took a risk really.
NM: Was the difficulty of joining a black fraternity something you weighed when making your ultimate decision to join DKE ?
DC: No, because honestly, the frat I was going to join, I knew what to expect. Like, I knew it was going to be tough. I was ready to do it. But, it wasn’t about how easy it was [to join], it was more about the experience.
NM: Is there a difference between how white girls treat you when you tell them you’re in DKE than black girls ?
DC: I mean, when I tell them [black girls], you can kind of tell it throws them off. [laughs] They don’t treat me any differently. I mean, the white girls are everywhere, but that’s a different story.
NM: How are black frat parties different from DKE’s parties ?
DC: Black frats…they dance. White frats, it’s not the same; they try to dance [laughs]. It’s just not the same. It’s never the same. The girls are different though. At [white] parties, it’s a lot less work. [laughs] I’ll say that.
NM: Are there any misconceptions people have when you tell them you’re in a white fraternity ?
DC: I’ve been kinda waiting on somebody to give me the “Uncle Tom” comparison [laughs]. But, I haven’t gotten that yet…surprisingly.
NM: Well, what’s your best frat story ? The craziest night ?
DC: I think the craziest night was…uh, I can’t talk about that [laughs].
NM: What’s the best thing about being in your frat, specifically ?
DC: Ummm…I don’t know. Well, I like the diversity of it.That’s the biggest thing that stands out to me. I can’t say what the best thing is. It’s kind of like an all-around great experience. It teaches you a lot. I’m a lot more prepared for the real world than I would be if I was with a black fraternity because you’re going to be dealing with white people on a regular basis.
NM: Could you see yourself stepping on a line somewhere ?
DC: Yeah, I could. Wait, with [DKE] ? [laughs]
NM: Do you think that’s something you’re missing out on ?
DC: [Stepping], that’s one thing I wish I could do. That’s what I was looking forward to doing [with the black frat]. But, I mean, they all have their own traditions. It’s like a give and take kind of thing. –