Pledge (plej) n.(1) A person undergoing a trial period before formal initiation into a fraternity or sorority.
(2) a) To accept tentative membership in a fraternity or sorority. b) to accept as a pledge.
(3) Something promised esp. money to be contributed in regular payments.
to punish or harass by forcing to do hard, unnecessary work. 2) to initiate or discipline (fellow students) by forcing to do ridiculous, humiliating, or painful things.
Taken from Webster's New World Dictionary; Third College Edition 1989
It is now time that we cover one of the most pressing issues facing Black Greek Lettered Organizations. The issue of Pledging vs.Hazing.
Before I begin this, I must warn you. This page in particular is made to offend some of those who read this. The reasons being there are those, no matter what the organization, who will tell you that they pledged, but their actions are contradictory to what "TRUE" pledging stands for. There are others who say that they didn't pledge, but this information will prove otherwise.
Now let us begin. If you have read the previous information in this site, you have gathered quite a bit about the philosophies of Black Greek Lettered Organizations. How we began, what we represent, and for many of us what we have lost. You have been given a glimpse into the thing that unifies us in the hope that knowledge will destroy or dispel those things that separate us. It is sad to say that one thing that separates us, not as much as organizations, but more as members is the issue of how a person should be brought into an organization. If you ask a member about hazing, in most cases you will get the rehearsed, "We are non-hazing organizations." Yet there are many chapters of any organization that are known to make their pledges do some questionable deeds. Here at the Temple we won’t make excuses for what others do, and at the same time we don’t want to come off as liars. So here is my "personal" spin on the issue at hand.
For a moment let us go back in time. Back to the time of the Nubian/Egyptian/African traveler. Let us take a look at him/her before he or she set out on the journey to the land of the Greeks as a bring er of "LIGHT.” Let us remember what it was like when the traveler himself/herself walked in "DARKNESS" in search of"LIGHT.” First, the traveler had a desire to become more than he or she was. He or she had a thirst for knowledge; a thirst so strong that the traveler prayed to GOD for the right direction. The traveler next inquired of the great minds of the time, for he or she wanted to become like them. Once a sage or griot (teacher) was found that would take the traveler in, the traveler was set with a challenge or as we call it a CHARGE. There were four charges that existed: The Charge of Instruction, The Charge of Liability, The Charge Duty, and The Charge by Wood & Fire. The definition of The Charge of Instruction is to give instructions to or command with authority. The definition of The Charge of Liability is to put liability on a person or to make liable. The definition of The Charge of Duty is to have cared, custody, or supervision over.
When the first three charges were given out the traveler was joined by others who, like him/her, were in search of "LIGHT.” It was by instruction they were taught how to walk in the ways of great thinkers. Together they were made liable for the knowledge they were given. If one possessed "LIGHT" they must ALL possesses "LIGHT.” If one was to fall short then it was up to them "ALL" to carry that person. It was their duty to protect the knowledge and each other with their lives if need be. They were expected to one day become teachers, poets, philosophers, engineers, architects, and leaders amongst men & women. For one day they would take on the titles of great sages or griot charged with the job of dispensing "LIGHT" to the those walked in "DARKNESS.”
After it was seen fit that they were ready to become full-fledged travelers, they were tested by wood and fire. Wood was believed to be the purest form known to ancient man. In the Nubian territories which included Egypt, known as Kemet then, Ethiopia then known as Sheba, wood was exalted because it contained three of the four elements: Earth, Wind, and Water. The fourth element, Fire, returned the wood to its basic components. Since wood was considered to be so pure, the Egyptians took it and "GENTLY" tapped the female sex organ with it. They believed that it would bring fertility to the female. It is for this reason that would be travelers were tested. They were "TAPPED" with wood in order to bring fertility to the brotherhood/sisterhood. They experienced trial by fire in order to return them to their original elements that made them men/women.
Now you might ask how does this apply to the differences between pledging and hazing. Think for a minute over the journey of the traveler; read the two definitions. You must know that the pursuit of knowledge is similar to the trial period by which men/women are made. Understand that at some point in our lives, each one of us set out in search of "LIGHT.” This same "LIGHT" was meant to manifest a love in our hearts for GOD, ourselves, our fellow man, our fellow woman, and our world. Pledging was designed to bring out the best in the pledge or aspirant. It was created to be a time of bonding, a time of struggle, a time of growth, but most of all a time of joy. For those who pledged they walked in "DARKNESS" in search of the "LIGHT" that the organization had to offer. For those who did the pledging; it was meant to be their transition from recipients of "LIGHT" to dispensers of "LIGHT.”
Unfortunately, the process of pledging at some point for many became a process of hazing. The trials for the purpose of bonding became trials of who could make a person laugh at the torment of others. The trials by which knowledge was taught and learned became trials of a person’s pain threshold. The day that pledging became hazing, many members of Black Greek Lettered Organizations lost the knowledge of whom we are and why we exist. If you were to ask a person, who "CLAIMS" they pledged why the wood is used; there are many who would shrug their shoulders and say they didn’t know. If you asked them why they are called a line; they would look at you with a puzzled frown on their face. If you asked them why their line is named like a navel vessel; they would just ignore you. If you asked them what they are doing not just for their organization, but for the empowerment of the Black Community; they would have to sit and wonder. If you ask them how they claim to be unified, but at the drop of a dime they disrespect other Greek Lettered Organizations; they would not know what to tell you.
To be honest there are many who fall prey too at least one of these situations. There is no easy way to say this, but there is one thing that must be considered. If you fall victim to the previously stated situations then it is possible that you were hazed and not pledged. If you don't know why wood was used, yet you are someone who thinks WOOD = PLEDGING; then I am sorry to say that you have a lot to learn about pledging. If you think that being forced to stay up all night for someone else’s amusement is pledging; then you have got a lot to learn about pledging. If you disrespect or look down on other organizations; I am sorry to say you were not pledged. If you think that because you didn't take wood that you didn't pledge; you might be surprised to find out. It is possibly that you did pledge.
Pledging is supposed to teach three things. Loyalty to the principles of the organization, loyalty to brotherhood/sisterhood amongst "ALL" men/women, and loyalty to the community from which you came. If you learned all of these things, no matter what your process was like, my brother . . . my sister you were pledged. If you did not . . . I am sorry to say you were hazed. To all my Greek, Non-Greek, etc. brothers’ & sisters, I charge you with two questions only you can answer. Were you pledged or were you hazed? Do you pledge or do you haze?
If fraternities and sororities are a "means of transportation" then we must treat them with care so that we don't wreak them. For a man or woman that purchases a vehicle and wrecks it out of "IGNORANCE" is a fool. He or she not only hurts themselves, but they hurt others in the process. The same way a person performs maintenance on a vehicle to keep it running and looking its best is the same way we must maintain our fellow members & fellow organizations. We must treat our organizations, our brothers, and our sisters with respect, for if we don't then who will?
The Temple of Blue Staff
Brother Ahab El'Askeni
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
CPT. AHAB the PuPPeT MaStEr
Fall 96 ** LEGION OF DOOM ** #5 of 11
Initiated Delta Theta Chapter @ Prairie View A& M University
Now The "FlawLess Victory" Iota Alpha Sigma Chapter
East Bay & Northern California
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