The Politics of a Multicultural Organization

I think every bride has that moment of panic when she realizes that her wedding day is drawing near. And, despite the challenge of time versus getting in shape, she’s still wanting to “look amazing” on her wedding day. I too exhibited the signs of pre-wedding panic, and so I decided to hire a personal trainer. Not only did my trainer help get me in shape for my big day, she also gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received: “If nothing changes, then nothing changes.” As we begin discussions of moving Theta Nu Xi toward greater advocacy and social justice efforts, I want to be sure we make any changes with proper forethought and in a way that is healthy for our Sorority.

With the inauguration of this year’s theme, Social Change Butterflies, at Convention 2013, many of our chapters and members have begun to take a critical look at how we can effect positive change in our communities, and what role Theta Nu Xi should play in effecting social change on a larger scale. Some Greek letter organizations include political awareness and involvement in their programmatic initiatives, and use the many voices of their members to advocate for change in accordance with their programmatic
objectives.

Many sisters believe that Theta Nu Xi has the “potential to greatly impact our nation.” However, with a membership as diverse as ours, and with our commitment to not allow personal politics get in the way of our bonds, Soror Siria Serrano asks, “Is Theta Nu Xi the structure we want to use, develop, [and] invest in, to represent and carry out [political initiatives]? Is that its role?” While we do have the potential to use Theta Nu Xi as a platform to instigate social change, with diversity and inclusion as a core belief of our Sorority, how do we decide what platforms we will (and won’t) advocate for? And, more importantly, do we “really understand what it means to be social change agents” and a social justice organization?

Before Theta Nu Xi adopts a policy of advocating for social justice, we must be sure we fully understand what that means, and we must consider the consequences of choosing to advocate for certain platforms over others. If we do move in this direction we need to do so with caution and thoughtfulness to ensure that we do not marginalize any of our members. We need to be sure that any efforts we choose to support can maintain the inclusiveness we desire of Theta Nu Xi.

I joined Theta Nu Xi was because I wanted to extend myself beyond the cocoon of my white, middle-class, privileged, rural upbringing. I wanted to listen to the experiences of others. I wanted to literally extend my hand to someone very different than me and say: “I respect you, I respect our differences, and in this respect, I form a bond with you no matter our political views.” I wanted to change myself in order to be a voice to change the world around me. If we are to be advocates of social change, let us first consider how we are affecting change—and if a singular organizational voice will stifle our individual, experienced, and passionate voices. Though I am unsure a multicultural organization is the right place to take on this task, in our exploration of this path I recommend that we proceed with our eyes open, our ears ready to listen, and with caution instead of a “crash diet” of change. For change to be successful, we must find a healthy way to make the transition.
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Written by: Jessica Knouse (Nu Chapter, 2004)