Academic journal article Culture, Society and Masculinities

Schools for the Better Making of Men? Undergraduate Black Males, Fraternity Membership, and Manhood

Academic journal article Culture, Society and Masculinities

Schools for the Better Making of Men? Undergraduate Black Males, Fraternity Membership, and Manhood

Article excerpt

Black1 male college students' engagement as leaders, political activists, and agents for social change is well-documented (Allen, 1992; Brown, Dancy & Davis, 2013; Fleming, 1984; Harper, 2013; Palmer, Wood, Dancy & Strayhorn, 2013). Studies reveal the ways in which Black males serve Black student communities by facilitating academic and social advancement as well as creating cultural enclaves to navigate Whiteness at predominantly White institutions (Flowers, 2004; Guiffrida, 2003; Gusa, 2010; Smith & Moore, 2000; Yancey, 2003). Black males participate in ethnic organizations to bolster commitments to their racial communities (Dancy, 2012), and move on campus in ways committed to improving Black livelihoods on predominantly White campuses (Arminio et al., 2000; Harper & Quaye, 2007; Taylor & Howard-Hamilton, 1995). In fact, some Black males became involved in predominantly White organizations to take advantage of opportunities to positively portray being Black and male to rebuff negatives stereotypes (Komives, Owen & Longerbeam, 2005) that intersect at maleness and Blackness. Additionally, Black males, while being involved in leadership roles within campus organizations, experienced positive supports that were greatly guided by interpersonal interactions and awareness of their racialized identities (Logue, Hutchens & Hector, 2005) albeit not linked to masculinity. While the literature largely ignores the relationship between Black male masculine identities and Black community advocacy, Black males intentionally practice culturally relevant leadership in gender specific fraternal organizations (Kimbrough, 1995; Kimbrough & Hutcheson, 1998).

Patton, Flowers and Bridges (2011) explored the effects of Greek affiliation on African American student engagement in both historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly White institutions (PWI). Concerning interactions with peers and faculty members, findings indicated that, although Black students in Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs) at HBCUs are more engaged in collaborative academic activities, the same demographic was less engaged at PWIs. Following data aggregation, the relationship between Greek organization affiliation and engagement levels remain unclear. Gender-focused studies have framed BGLOs as beneficial to Black males by facilitating intimate brotherly bonding and greater connectedness to the campus (McClure, 2006); and providing culturally validating places for leadership development and opportunity (Harper & Harris, 2006). These aforementioned studies not only reinforce the notion that BGLOs support Black male leadership development, btit also act as key avenues for racial pride, especially at PWIs (Kimbrough, 1995; Sutton & Terrell, 1997). However, despite these informative contributions to the literature, the link between how BGLO membership influences Black male self-perceptions of masculinity was not broached.

Hence, this nuilti-institutional study was conducted to understand how African American male undergraduates, who are members of Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLO), construct manhood within both historically Black college and predominantly White institution (PWI) contexts. Built on evidence derived from participants' narratives, this study contributes to the field by offering manhood perspectives as a pertinent part of the overarching view of BGLO membership and identity as experienced by African American males. Manhood is a multidimensional concept referring to the self-expectations, relationships and responsibilities to family, and worldviews or existential philosophies associated with men's multiple and intersecting identities (Dancy, 2010; 2011a; 2011b; 2012; Hunter & Davis, 1992; 1994).

Literature Review

For decades, gender-sensitive inquiry into the shady of males in college, particularly Black males, has been slow to emerge until recent years (J.E. Davis, 2000; T. …

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