It was 1976. I was a freshman at the University of New Orleans, and an Associate Member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. As a group, we sat around a table in the University Center’s snack bar. Even though I was an Education major (the college was on the other side of campus), I gravitated to the UC.
One day that fall, I walked up to the UC’s main entrance around lunchtime. A crowd had gathered there. That’s when I saw my first “stomp.” Men, pledges from Alpha Phi Alpha and Omega Psi Phi (didn’t know they were called “Q’s” at that time) did their dance routines, which I learned were called “stomps.”
Then came the ladies of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated, followed by the pledge class of the UNO chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Incorporated. That’s when I first heard the “Skee Wee.” So, when Senator Kamala Harris mentioned her sorority, AKA, at book promotion event at DC’s Politics and Prose on Wednesday, her Sorors did a “skee wee.”
As they fucking should.
I’ll let The Root tell the story of the event and the aftermath.
Exercise caution when messing with Sororities
It’s a Sorority thing. Honestly, it’s not even a Black thing as much as it’s a Sorority thing. What made it a black thing was a white woman. Ms. Chelsea Janes, recently assigned to political coverage after being on the Washington Nationals beat for years, covered the talk for the Washington Post.
And now she’s infamous. Ms. Janes forgot to check her privilege before entering an event with a mostly-black audience. When the Sorors of AKA did the Skee Wee, this is what she tweeted:
As I often do, I’d like to paraphrase Professor Tolkien by saying, I “cordially dislike” the term, “unpacking,” in the context of a photo, written work, etc. That said, there’s much to unpack here.
Just Fucking Racism
“Screech?” Like a sound a monkey makes? We’re off to a good start here, Chelsea.
I don’t know anything about Janes’ background (other than she’s a member of the Baseball Writers Association). I’ve heard the tone she uses from GDI (God Damn Independent) women from back in my UNO days. Sorority women? Nothing to see here, move along.
But Mz. Chelsea couldn’t help herself. As much as the screech/monkey thing sticks in my thoughts, It’s likely that remark wasn’t made to mock black women. It’s more likely she tweeted that because she just doesn’t like sorority women. Some of the cheers/calls/chants white sorority girls do are pretty screech-y as well. If you didn’t get the right recs, or if you got cut from Sorority Row at your school, this stays with you for life.
Again, I don’t know for sure, but there are many in the Sanders Cult who loathe Kamala Harris. They see her as a much greater threat to the election of their Dear Leader. Maybe Mz. Chelsea is a Berner?
A Cautionary Tale
There are two main takeaways for White People from this event:
- Don’t tweet analysis and reactions from an event with a mostly-minority audience. Say where you are. Say you’re enjoying the speaker. Save everything else for when you write up the event. THINK before Tweeting.
- If you forget the above, Black Twitter is going to eviscerate you. And you’ll likely deserve it.