It's about our community and our spirituality!

Step Up The Stepping Game

Now this is the type of prejudice that makes white people feel that racism against blacks is nothing we need to worry about.  CNN just reported that a step contest, steep in African American tradition and a product of the many historically black colleges and universities across the country, was won by Zeta Tau Alpha, an all white sorority from the University of Arkansas that managed to beat out five other sororities full of black women, to win the national final of the Sprite Step Off competition in Atlanta with a performance that was inspired by the movie The Matrix.

The last time I saw a step contest must have been almost a decade ago.  It was when I went back to my old alma mater for homecoming.  In order to take advantage of the opportunity presented with all the alumnae being on campus, the fraternities and sororities will throw a step contest that’s all but guaranteed to be a standing room only event.  Everybody remembers the step shows from back in the day.  And everybody wants to see the latest interpretations of stepping that the youngsters were doing.

When I saw that last step show all those years back, I knew chances were pretty good I would never bother to see another step contest again.  Instead of engaging in some kind of synchronized foot stomping routines with rhythmic clapping and hand movements with a vocalized cadence, the steppers were lip synching to the latest music from some black hip hop genre and grinding their bodies in rather vulgar contortions to the crowd.  The mostly young college student crowd loved it, manifesting their approval with standing ovations and screaming their approvals to the performers and clapped for more.  Most of the older people in the audience were turned off.  I simply chalked it up to the new way of things.

I know back in the day when I was stepping with my fraternity brothers in college, many alumni would criticize our performance as something lacking, something not quite up to snuff.  I used to think that was just old people not fully understanding the way younger people do it in a more modern time.  They would say things like our turns were sloppy or our choice of costume wasn’t fully representative of the traditions of the fraternity because we wore white shirts with black pants instead of the fraternity colors.  But looking back at the step performance on that particular day that I was the old alumni, I knew we were far beyond sloppy turns.  The brothers and sisters on stage looked like they never bothered to rehearse or to even develop any thing resembling a choreographed routine.  Stepping had changed and I no longer felt a connection to what was being offered.

I never thought much about the world of stepping again until today when I heard that the white Arkansas sorority’s win had started an argument over whether or not the integration of the exclusively black activity constituted some form of cultural identity theft.  Some black people have made comments that white people are trying to steal our culture.  Now let me see if I got this straight.  White people are participating in an activity that was traditionally performed by black people pretending to be Greek people.  Black people are using Greek letters to identify the group affiliations.  But black people are accusing white people of being the ones infringing on somebody’s culture.

Now, people are questioning whether or not a white group should have even been allowed to compete.  Others are accusing the judges of being so impressed that white people can step so well that they unfairly inflated their scores to give white people an advantage so that they would win.  Too many people are ready to forget that a lot of white people don’t want black people to participate in their traditionally all white functions.  Doesn’t anybody remember all the signs saying “white only”.  Nobody thought that type of racial prejudice should stand in the way of true integration.  Why are some people looking for some kind of racial protectionism now?

What if white people said that golf was their game and they didn’t want Tiger Woods or anybody else black stealing their culture?  What if white people said that tennis was a traditionally white only sport and that the Williams sisters or Arthur Ashe shouldn’t be participating?  If memory serves correctly, basketball and football were traditionally white sports.  Not many people were defending Rush Limbaugh when he made his rather racist comments about Donovan McNabb and how people wanted a black quarterback.  That was nothing but blatant racial prejudice.  Why do some black people think that they can mimic such behavior and not be considered just as bigoted?

If black people don’t like white people being number one in their traditionally all black activity then I strongly suggest that the black participants get their game on, develop some better choreography, and don’t skimp on the rehearsals.  Instead of just sitting back and bitching about white people winning a step contest, meet the challenge and become even better steppers.  And let’s do something to kick that prejudice to the curb.  It never good to see white people doing it.  It’s no better to see black people doing it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts


  1. I am disturbed to know that the sponsor, the black sororities and judging officials did not stand for the integrity of what was a fare opened to all sororities competiton. The ruling should stand as judged.
    I hope that our college and university children of black sororities and fraternities stand up and denounce the contraversy. If not then they just might be evolving into what we have so rightly come to hate.
    By the way. Who was it that created this contraversy? Could we be reacting to what should be a non issue?

    Comment by Akinwole | Monday, March 8, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Akinwole,

      It is truly a non issue. It goes without saying that there are bigots and idiots on both sides of the racial divide. But just like I talk about the idiots and non issues on the other side that spew tripe, I think it’s only fair that I give the tripe on our side of the racial divide the same kind of attention. A lot of people say that the bigotry black people show is ultimately no different than the bigotry of white people. In fact, some people use the bigotry of blacks to justify doing nothing about racism. If we’re going to point a damning finger at their racism, let’s point a damning finger here as well.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, March 9, 2010 | Reply

      • Ashe! Brotherpeacemaker,I see your point and must agree.

        Comment by Akinwole | Wednesday, March 10, 2010

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