Underground WGN Lowkey Snitchin on Black Fraternity and Sorority Traditions

If you look closely to last night’s episode of Underground WGN, you will see many similarities between the slave relationship with the master.

Underground WGN is a mini series that chronicles the journey of runaway slaves. During this particular episode, Rosa Lee (a light skinned house slave) had the task of stealing the slave master’s seal in order to forge freedom papers. Once she placed the seal on the documents, she was supposed to return the seal to the master’s office. Well Rosa Lee wasn’t able to return the seal before he noticed and the master blamed a field slave for the theft.

As punishment, the slave master ended up lining up the field slaves and forcing them to simultaneously hold up a single plank of wood above their heads for a long amount of time. Watching this scene made me understand the D9 traditions a little more.

This episode sheds light on the origin of some black fraternity and sorority traditions . In Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLO’s), it is common to be hazed prior to being accepted as a member of the organization.

One of the main components of a BGLO is a “Line”. In a Predominantly White fraternity or sorority, they call them a “Pledge Class”. Lines consist of a pledge class that ” lines up ” the purpose of the line is that the line represents the pledge class as a singular unit. Therefore, if one member of the “line” is a troublemaker, then the entire “line” is considered a troublemaker. Therefore if the troublemaker gets punished, the entire “Line” gets punished because the troublemaker is apart of a unit.

In Underground WGN, the master suspected that one of the field slaves stole the seal but the entire field got punished. BGLO’s give snippets of their hazing structure during “Probate Shows”. Probate Shows occur after the “line” has been initiated into the BLGO. This is a way of showcasing the various activities that the “line” had to endure during the hazing phase of the initiation process (or conquest).

In BGLO’s, the people that are already initiated members represent the slave masters, and the pledges that are seeking membership are the slaves.

If this doesn’t make sense to you, that’s probably because you have never had any contact with BLGO life. Watch this weeks episode of Underground ( Season 1 episode 3 The Lord’s Day)  pay careful attention to the field slave punishment scene, then take a look at these probate shows.

 

Notice that the line had their arms in the same position for the entire video. This is a snippet of the position that line had to endure for the entire 2-3 month initiation process. I guarantee that they have had to hold that position for hours on end during their process. Probate shows are designed to show little pieces of what the line has learned (aka had to endure) during their process. Notice how they speak simotaniously, the line had to learn how speak rapidly as a unit which I guarantee took time to master.

 

Slaves used negro spirituals as a way to keep morale and keep one another motivated as their bodies were challenged both mentally and physically during slavery. The ladies in this video seem to be singing what sounds to the key of negro spiritual.

 

It seems that part of the BGLO is based on the slave culture.

Not bashing BGLO’s. Slavery taught us the  how to have a strong bond amongst each other. How to create a code amongst ourselves.

 

Wish I could post the clip from Underground WGN, but they said that would be a violation. Maybe I’ll update after the episode gets old.

-RSB

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