Sunday, April 29, 2007

Indiscriminate Sunday: Societal Service, Cat-Sitting Cash & Tradition Choices (in Random Order)

This morning I woke up bright and early and left the East Village [Update: I am again cat-sitting for my boss (the vp one) over the next two weeks while she and her husband are on vacation in New Orleans]. From her apartment on First Avenue, I journeyed to the Upper West Side, where I would be assisting with new registration for the March of Dimes Walk.

Now that I have become more settled as a New Yorker, I am getting involved with the New York Alumnae Chapter of my sorority (I joined a collegiate chapter of a Historically Black Greek Organization as a university undergrad in 2001). At Columbus & 62nd, I met my sorors at 6:50 a.m. to man our volunteer post and await instructions. The sorors, who volunteered their Sunday morning to the March of Dimes, ranged in ages from the mid-20's to the late-60's, and it was nice to spend time together while assisting a worthy cause. Over the past year since leaving North Carolina and the Asheville Alumnae Chapter, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed being with likeminded education- and career-oriented women, who share common interests in fellowship and community empowerment.

It may seem odd that I joined a historically-Black sorority since I am not Black. But in fact, it's not as unheard-of as one might think. In an article in 2000, Ebony magazine explored the rare phenomena of Whites in Black Sororities and Fraternities:

"If you're envisioning a bunch of Eminem- and Teena Marie-look-alikes, get ready for the real. These White members fit no easy stereotypes. Instead, they come from all backgrounds--urban neighborhoods, Middle America and even the segregated South. Some grew up surrounded by Blacks, while others had little contact with African-Americans before college.

"'Some of my brothers would say I'm probably the Whitest guy they know,' says Duchamp, the assistant director for fraternity and sorority life at Longwood College who joined Phi Beta Sigma at Clemson University in 1997."

Read more

Some of my sorors would describe me as the Whitest Filipina they know. Growing up in a society that often forces everyone into boxes, and where I was too White to be Filipina and too Filipina to be White, I feel like that description is pretty accurate. And it suits me just fine as I have grown adamant about not denying either side of my heritage.

I might have joined an Asian sorority had there been an opportunity at my university, and I considered several White sororities; however, in hindsight, my last six years in Greek life have been more fulfilling than I ever dared to expect from a sorority. My reasons for joining a Black Greek organization are somewhat similar to those of other non-African American members, including "perpetual membership and community service ... and a more-desirable moral fabric," but it was also something I just felt.

After the March of Dimes registration and check-in closed at 11 a.m., I ventured down to the Lower East Side to pick up nine pounds of jelly beans on behalf of my other boss (the avp one) for an upcoming company party. And because it was a chilly day and I had been awake since 5:30 a.m., I forwent my Spring Sunday City Walk and returned to my boss's apartment to lounge on her couch in front of her huge flat-screen TV.

I can't believe she pays me whenever I stay at her place with her 18-year-old cat Stella. Although ... it is pretty tough work. A comfortable couch with the deluxe cable TV package in a [Manhattan]-huge, 2-bedroom apartment in the trendy East Village. It's a tough job, but someone has to get paid to hang here.

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