The ladies of the Zeta Tau Alpha, Epsilon chapter, of the University of Arkansas, compete in the 2010 Sprite Stepoff.
The ladies of the Zeta Tau Alpha, Epsilon chapter, of the University of Arkansas, compete in the 2010 Sprite Stepoff. greatestsorority/YouTube
I don't know whether I've ever mentioned that I pledged a sorority when I was in college. My father insisted that I become a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA). I indulged him. He's a good daddy. So, I spent about two years working with my "sisters/sorors" (other women who joined the same organization) in voter registration drives, editing the school newspaper and protesting a few "injustices."
I was also a member of AKA's step team.
"Step," for those of you who haven't heard, refers to synchronized dance or drill movements. African-American members of Greek-letter organizations are said to have pioneered "stepping." It's beautiful to see. Picture this: nine young women, dressed identically, moving with precision. They dance. They stomp and clap doing several intricate "hambone" movements which include hand-hitting-chest or hand-slapping-thigh motions. And, they "signify" (talk about how cute they are and what wonderful things they've done through their membership to make the world a better place.)
Recently, Coca-Cola (via Sprite) hosted a national "step" show competition and a white sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, was the original champion. Here's a clip of their performance:
There was a huge outcry following the event. And, later, Coca-Cola said there was a scoring error during the competition and has since announced that the young white sorority will have to share first place with the members of AKA from Indiana University.
The AKAs are black.
I almost hate to say this, but I saw the tape. The members of Zeta Tau Alpha kicked their competitors' behinds — hands down. Yes, they did.
Those young women shouldn't have to share the prize — $100,000 in scholarships. They earned their victory. "Stepping" may be an African-American tradition, but competition is just that. You've got to put on the best performance and get the highest score. Besides, my sorors, the AKAs at Indiana University, should have too much pride to accept some lame "scoring error" excuse. They should turn down the money and graciously send a congratulatory note to the members of Zeta. And, my sorors, the AKAs at the University of Arkansas (they trained the members of Zeta Tau Alpha to compete in the stepoff), should speak up about their role in expanding the "step" tradition beyond the black community.
Who knows, maybe it's time for stepping — like jazz and hip-hop — to be exposed to a more diverse college student body. I'm curious to see all of the interesting and fun things that people will create in stepping.
Zeta Tau Alpha member and step team co-captain Alexandra Kosmitis will talk about the Coca-Cola competition tomorrow on Tell Me More with host Michel Martin.
Thanks for listening.