Although they have existed for more than 100 years, research on
black Greek-letter organizations (BGLOs) is still new. Publicly
accessible scholarship on these groups is only about a decade old.
Ironically, unlike most scholarship, this work is largely consumed by
lay individuals—well-educated BGLO members, largely. The inherent
tension there is that among individuals who are deeply, emotionally
committed to their respective organizations, how should they receive
critical analysis of their fraternity or sorority? In my experience, many
members do not receive it well. I suspect that writing about the issue
that underscores the true vulnerabilities of these groups, members
will be even less enthusiastic about this book. There is no doubt that
there will be echoes of: What is his motive? What is his agenda? Is he
out to destroy BGLOs?
I have been active in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity for 18 years.
I am deeply committed to the long-term viability of BGLOs and have
used my talents and professional skill to analyze and critique BGLOs
in many ways, all in an effort to prod them forward and to make
them more useful to the communities they serve. This book reflects
yet another iteration of that effort. I acknowledge that this is a work
that BGLOs could and should have done long-ago, and in their
absence in this regard and around this issue, I have sought to fill the
breach. While I do not necessarily lay out proscriptive measures
directly, I have remained true to my goal; that is to more clearly
delineate the nature and scope of hazing within BGLOs so that
better prophylactic measures can be developed.
Ultimately, I chose the title, “Invictus,” for two reasons: First
and foremost, it is a William Ernest Henley poem that many BGLO
members learn during their pledge processes. Elsewhere, including in
this book, I have written extensively about the role of poems within
BGLOs, especially “Invictus.” Second, the poem first appeared in A
Book of Verses (1888) and was republished in Poems in 1898. The title
“Invictus” was literally drawn from Latin, meaning “the
unconquerable.” The question this book raises in style and scope is
what will be unconquerable—BGLOs or the hazing that they must
confront? While I am not optimistic about BGLOs’ ability to
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