AKA suspends two cast members from VH1 “Sorority Sisters”

aka-soroity-sisters-vh1-canceled-jemblog-dot-comAs most people know, the new VH1 show, “Sorority Sisters” did not get a warm welcome among the sororities that were being represented by the network. You would be hard-pressed to find any member of any of the Black Greek letter organizations who is in support of the show.

But freedom of speech is real, and people are going to use it in whatever way they see fit.

Despite individuals having the right to do what they want, organizations can also retaliate in a nasty way. Your right to wear the colors of your sorority is dependent upon your remaining in good standing with the group’s leadership. That’s where you may run into problems if they aren’t happy with what you’re doing.

According to TheRoot.com, two members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc have been suspended from their organization after appearing on the show, “Sorority Sisters.” April McRae and Joy Hammond have been suspended from December 26, 2014 through July 15, 2016, which is probably long enough to ruin their careers as reality television “stars.” It’s not clear if the suspension was in reaction to their appearance on the show, but no one would be surprised if it were.

Lawrence Ross, author of “The Divine Nine: The History Of African-American Sororities & Fraternities,” says that the official website for AKA has confirmed the suspension of the two women. The women are members of the Chi Tau Omega and Lambda Epsilon Omega chapters of the sorority. Any chapter name that ends with the word “Omega” is a graduate chapter for AKA.

The show has NOT been deemed acceptable by either the black community at-large or those who are members of Black Greek Letter Organizations. Petitions, boycotts and other actions have led to some corporations dropping their sponsorship for the show. The general concern is that reality television in general doesn’t paint black women in a positive light, and that the goal is for VH1 to profit by damaging the reputation of some of the most respected organizations within the African American commuity. BET is the sister network of VH1, and both are owned by Viacom.

Alpha Kappa Alpha said even more about the show on their website:

As leaders of the four historically African American sororities, we are united in our belief that Sorority Sisters, which aired Monday, December 15, 2014 on VH1, poses a shameful affront to our proud legacies of service, scholarship and sisterhood.

For more than a century, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated; Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated; and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated, have been at the vanguard of positive social change and served as repositories for women with shared ideals.

As such, we are saddened by the producers’ desire to elevate harmful, negative, and stereotypical imagery of African American women in their quest for ratings. Moreover, these cast members willfully misrepresent the ideals of our illustrious organizations, betray the privilege of membership bestowed upon them, undermine our collective promise to uplift communities and each other, and detract from the transformative programs carried out by our members worldwide. This cast, these plotlines and the entire show premise represent the antithesis of who we are as African American women, sorority sisters and friends.

On behalf of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated; Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated; and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated, we condemn this television show for its exploitation and degradation of our organizations and African American women everywhere.

Financial Juneteenth lessons from this story (courtesy of Dr Boyce Watkins):

1) For many corporations (AKA included), one of their most valuable assets is their corporate brand and reputation. Alpha Kappa Alpha, founded in 1908, has spent over a century cultivating and protecting its brand. It would be no surprise to see them fight like hell on this one and possibly consider filing lawsuits. By suspending women who choose to be on the show, they are disallowing VH1 to profit from the exploitation of an image they spent many decades (and millions of dollars) trying to build.

2) Black women have become the ultimate cash cow for reality television. Networks are earning money hand over fist by throwing black females into a fighting ring like caged animals and watching them tear each other’s heads off. This only adds to the image of the black woman as contentious, bitter, volatile, unlovable and mentally ill. These images have influence on young girls, who are then taught to believe that these messages reflect true black womanhood, continuing the cycle of broken families and psychological terrorism which exists in too many black communities today. In other words, these shows are responsible for creating psychological STDs that don’t do much harm to the white guys getting rich from these shows, but can damage black families for generations. The media is very, very powerful in shaping black identity…..we can never forget that.


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