“The Reward was Worth the Sacrifice”: How Membership in Black Greek Letter Fraternities (BGLFs) Redefines Black Men’s College Experiences

Jasmine Armstrong 1 *

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp. 1-19

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This study examines how membership in black Greek letter fraternities (BGLFs) significantly impacts black men’s college experiences at a predominantly white institution (PWI) of higher learning. Utilizing twenty semi-structured, open-ended interviews with black male college students, this paper describes the benefits and costs of belonging to black fraternities. Membership in black fraternities fosters members’ sense of personal growth and maturity, playing a pivotal role in their transformation from adolescents into young college men. On the other hand, belonging to such fraternities often consumes the majority of respondents’ personal time and leads to a loss of individualism and decreased quality in personal relationships, particularly in relationships with women. This study expands upon the emerging literature on the influence that black fraternities have on their members’ college experiences by capturing fraternity brothers’ own nuanced accounts of the rewards and sacrifices that are associated with membership in BGLFs. Taken together, their stories serve to counteract a host of negative stereotypes about young black men in America.

Keywords: Race, Gender, Black Men, Greek Letter Organizations, Black Masculinity, College Students