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Black Haze

Violence, Sacrifice, and Manhood in Black Greek-Letter Fraternities

Ricky L. Jones

Publication Year: 2004

As a fraternity member, past chapter president, and former national committee representative, Ricky L. Jones is uniquely qualified to write about the sometimes deadly world of black fraternity hazing. Examining five major black Greek-letter fraternities, Jones maintains that hazing rituals within these fraternities are more deeply ingrained, physically violent, and imbued with meaning to their participants than the initiation rites of other ethnic groups. Because they do not see themselves as having the same political, social, and economic opportunities as other members of society, black fraternities and their members have come to see the ability to withstand physical abuse as the key ingredient in building and defining manhood. According to Jones, hazing in black fraternities is a modern manifestation of sacrificial ritual violence that has existed since ancient times, and the participants view such rituals as an important tool in the construction of individual and collective black male identity.

Published by: State University of New York Press

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Table of Contents

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pp. ix-xi

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pp. xiii

In September 2002 police officers in Playa del Rey, California pulled two college students to shore from the Pacific Ocean. Police attributed the deaths of Kenitha Saafir, 24, of Compton, and Kristin High, 22, of Los Angeles, to their inability to swim back to shore after being caught in a powerful...

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1 The Problem at Hand

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pp. 1-12

To say that no one has known that hazing has been a problem in BGFs would be false. The last few decades have seen a growing concern in the U. S. media, public, and at colleges and universities with the practice.1 Unfortunately, the Davis tragedy in Missouri was not the result of atypical...

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2 Old Problem, New Approach

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pp. 13-24

For three years of my graduate school career, I served as the advisor to the University of Kentucky’s black Greek-letter fraternities and sororities. One of my major duties was chaperoning the groups’ parties, which were the primary social outlets for the African-American student population. During one such event, I was casually chatting with one of my fraternity brothers...

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3 The History of Black Greek-Letter Fraternities

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pp. 25-46

Much historical and contemporary discussion has revolved around the idea of “manliness” in the United States. Although the notion itself transcends race, its attainment presents unique challenges for African-American men. Ellis Cose remarks that unlike the majority of white men, the black man is not comforted by the thought that the United States has a “prepared...

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4 The Pledge Process as Sacrifice

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pp. 47-66

If solutions to the destructive behavior that sometimes manifests itself in BGFs are to be found, we must begin to take different approaches to understanding the impetus that lies at the heart of the pledge process. Critically speaking, when engaging the pledge process one must work diligently...

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5 The Hegemonic Struggle and Domination in Black Greek-Letter Fraternities

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pp. 67-94

Afalsehood has been perpetuated about black Greekdom—graduate chapters do not haze. Like many stereotypes, the belief is grounded in a modicum of truth. Usually, graduate chapters do not carry the intensity of their pledge periods to the same levels as their undergraduate counterparts...

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6 Acceptance, Freedom, and Identity Construction in Black Greek-Letter Fraternities

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pp. 95-112

The interaction of black men within their group and U.S. society brings us to the core question of violence and how it relates to black male identity. This is where the most cogent answers to our questions concerning violence in BGFs are found. As with the historic and contemporary reasons...

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7 Beyond the Fraternal Self

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pp. 113-120

As we conclude our inquiry regarding violence in BGFs, we are faced with the reality that this study has carried us down a path of explanation that has very little to do with fraternities. In one sense this becomes readily apparent when one notes the major intellectual influences for this book...


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pp. 121-128


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pp. 129-142


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pp. 143-154


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pp. 155-158

E-ISBN-13: 9780791485651
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791459751
Print-ISBN-10: 0791459756

Page Count: 176
Illustrations: 1 table
Publication Year: 2004