More than Just a Meme: How a Picture Sparked a Discussion on Cultural Appropriation and Greek Life at Vanderbilt

More than Just a Meme: How a Picture Sparked a Discussion on Cultural Appropriation and Greek Life at Vanderbilt

1799 views

On Wednesday, a meme posted to a prominent Vanderbilt Facebook group sparked a passionate debate about cultural appropriation. The group, titled “dank new rand memes,” is familiar to many Vanderbilt students. It is usually a place of levity, where students make jokes at the expense of campus issues and characters. Humorous photos of Chancellor Zeppos, satires of Vanderbilt’s new Quality Enhancement Program called DIVE, and lamentations about the shrinking sizes of Rand Dining Hall cups are mainstays of the group.

All that levity ended when Savannah Hall, a senior, posted this picture:

mem1

The meme references a photo the Alpha Delta Pi sorority used to advertise their spring fundraising event, LemonADPi. The photo, pictured in the bottom right corner of the meme, borrowed the cover of Beyoncé’s iconic album Lemonade, which celebrates black culture and raises awareness of the issues that black women face in America. Upon its 2016 release, Lemonade was widely praised by critics as a powerful statement of African-American female identity, as it highlighted injustice, misogyny, and racial stereotypes. Hall’s post quickly garnered attention in the page. There were those individuals who praised the meme, expressing contentment that the Vanderbilt community was having discussions like this.

screencap

Many felt that ADPi’s advertisement was a form of cultural appropriation—that ADPi misused an aspect of a minority culture for their own advantage without giving appropriate credit and consideration to that minority group. Lemonade was a statement about black culture in the United States, and many commenters were upset that the Beyonce’s art was used by ADPi to advance the needs of an organization that is largely made up of white people.

Soon after the meme was posted, other commenter’s rushed to ADPi’s defense, stating that African Americans did not own Beyoncé’s album and that anyone should be allowed to use it for any purpose. Many did not understand the discontent with the advertisement, or with Greek life in general.

screencap2

 

screencap3

The debate over the photo soon spiraled out of control, and members of both sides began hurling insults at each other.

screencap4

 

screencap5

 

screencap6

VPR reached out to Savannah Hall, a former member of ADPi, for comment on her now (in)famous meme. She wrote, “My intention behind posting the meme was to call attention to a vital issue that is not addressed by many Panhellenic and IFC members or organizations. I think white Vanderbilt and certainly white, Greek Vanderbilt really struggles to converse publicly about these issues because they are worried about the blowback on their organizations and their friends that work so hard to manage these organizations.”

VPR also reached out to individual members of ADPi for comment, but the national sorority’s executive office did not allow members of Vanderbilt’s chapter to speak about this issue to the press on behalf of ADPi. Technically, though, a third party is allowed to speak to members of the sorority and then speak to the press. An anonymous interlocutor wrote to VPR the following:

“As someone who is close with many ADPi’s, I know that they never meant to harm anyone with their LemonADPi cover photo theme nor did they pick this theme with malice in mind. They realize their thoughtlessness and privilege now that their mistake has been brought to their attention, for which they are grateful… They feel much remorse for insinuating such ideas about the nature of Greek life mentality, and are planning to actively combat the issue of cultural appropriation in the future.”

It should be noted that this third party quote is not an official statement from ADPi or any of its members. Whether or not the chapter will release an official statement on this issue remains to be seen.

What can be gathered from the events of this past week is that there is growing animosity towards the Greek system at Vanderbilt. Many feel that the general lack of racial sensitivity in Greek organizations is concerning, and they attempt to raise awareness of cultural appropriation on a relatively white campus. The social fabric of Vanderbilt is changing; some students now have higher expectations of the university community in terms of hearing and addressing the grievances of minorities, taking progressive stances on social issues, and being sensitive and respectful to different cultures.

Also, it is no secret that the administration has been cracking down on Greek life. This, combined with some students’ antipathy towards Greek organizations, puts Greek life in a precarious position. Campus is changing, and some students accuse Greek organizations of holding up white supremacy, whether intentional or not. This has left many Greeks and non-Greeks alike scratching their heads, since people of color are not at all barred from joining Panhellenic and IFC organizations; in fact, many of these organizations contain students of color. Minority students are allowed access to these organizations, but is there something within the culture of fraternities and sororities that perpetuates a dominant white culture on campus or that drives students of color away from them? How Greek life responds to the changing times will determine its future at Vanderbilt, as more and more minorities are enrolling in the university.

It would be easy to point fingers at ADPi for causing this meme debacle, but the LemonADPi photo controversy is simply indicative of a broader trend at the university.  The members of ADPi who posted these cover photos likely did not do so with malicious intent. Additionally, the debate occurring in the comments thread of the Facebook meme got out of control. Neither of these facts, however, change the distaste certain students have with campus culture as it is, especially with Greek culture. Concrete action towards taking progressive stances on social issues within the Greek community may help alleviate the tension between them and students who feel marginalized. As of right now, though, tensions are high. And to think that all of this started with a meme.

 

About author

Avi Mediratta

Avi Mediratta is a Senior and VPR's Editor-in-Chief. He is from Orlando, FL and is majoring in Economics and Human and Organizational Development. His political interests include education policy, labor and employment, and international relations. He also enjoys chocolate milk.

Comments
  • 토토 사이트#1

    June 3, 2019

    There as noticeably a bundle to know about this. I assume you made sure nice factors in features also.

    Reply
  • 릴게임다운로드#2

    May 16, 2019

    Will bаА аЂа• baаАааАТƒk foаА аБТ– more

    Reply
  • 토토사이트#3

    May 12, 2019

    Some really excellent info, Gladiola I noticed this.

    Reply
  • Latest news#4

    May 7, 2019

    Just wanna admit that this is handy , Thanks for taking your time to write this.

    Reply
  • Vans Romania online#5

    April 27, 2019

    Really informative article.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.

    Reply
  • fila shoes#6

    April 27, 2019

    I just wanted to compose a brief note to be able to say thanks to you for all of the unique points you are showing at this site. My rather long internet search has finally been honored with beneficial points to write about with my friends and family. I would mention that most of us visitors are very lucky to dwell in a fine place with very many brilliant people with insightful methods. I feel really lucky to have encountered the web pages and look forward to many more fun moments reading here. Thanks again for a lot of things.

    Reply
  • haine tommy hilfiger#7

    April 27, 2019

    Interesting article, thanks. Could you explain the second paragraph in more detail please?

    Reply
  • vue forums#8

    April 26, 2019

    kabansale watch was too easy before, however right now it is pretty much impossible

    Reply
  • kingdom karaoke#9

    April 26, 2019

    Im obliged for the post.Really looking forward to read more. Want more.

    Reply
  • xin visa canada#10

    April 26, 2019

    you are really a good webmaster, you have done a well job on this topic!

    Reply
  • small business ideas#11

    April 26, 2019

    This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post. Also, I ave shared your web site in my social networks!

    Reply
  • Daftar Paytren#12

    April 26, 2019

    Ꮋi there, just became aѡare of your blog through Google, and found that it is
    really informative. I aam going to watch out for brusseⅼѕ.
    I will ƅe grateful if you continue this in futuгe.

    A lot of people will bee bеnefited from your
    writing. Cheerѕ! http://www.steelstix.com/comment/html/?20492.html

    Reply
  • Nike Air Zoom Pegasus#13

    April 26, 2019

    He asked the relevant departments to seriously and thoroughly rectify and rectify one another, to be serious and accountable, and resolutely put an end to false poverty alleviation.

    Reply
  • Yeezy Boost 350#14

    April 24, 2019

    IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the global economy was “a subtle “Time” and pointed out that “the tension in the international trade has brought significant downside risks to the global economy.”

    Reply
  • Basilia#15

    April 24, 2019

    What are some of one of the most popular/best blogs about mobile phone and cordless tech?

    Reply
  • mia pron khalifa#16

    April 22, 2019

    28kyMx Really appreciate you sharing this article post.Really thank you!

    Reply
  • Sindy#17

    April 20, 2019

    Just how much blog site web traffic will affect to my blog if I convert my blog name with different domain?

    Reply
  • i love pron#18

    April 19, 2019

    2BnzZW Some truly excellent blog posts on this internet site, regards for contribution. The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it. by Arnold Glasgow.

    Reply
  • aqiqah hemat#19

    April 19, 2019

    What’s up frіends, how iss everything, and what you wish fοr to say on the topioc
    of this article, іn my view its truly remarkable in support of me. https://Kode2.com/db_mssql/282070

    Reply
  • info lebih lengkap#20

    April 18, 2019

    Ӏ’m gone to inform my little brother, that he should аlso pаy a visit this bloց οn regular basis too take ᥙpdated from hotteѕt gossip. http://dohairbiz.com/en/component/k2/itemlist/user/2622434.html

    Reply
  • situs judi bola#21

    April 15, 2019

    Нellο! I realize this is kind of off-topic howevеr I had to ask.
    Does building a well-estabⅼished blog like yours require a
    lot of work? I’m brand new to writing a bⅼog but Ӏ do ᴡrite in my journal
    on a daily basіs. I’d like to start a blog
    so I can share my experiеnce and viewѕ online.

    Please let me know іf you have any kind of suggestions oor tіpѕ for new aspiring blog owners.
    Ꭺppreciatе it! https://suamemoriapodeseapagar.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  • me suba#22

    April 15, 2019

    Sw1Rqp I truly appreciate this blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.

    Reply
  • Elidia#23

    April 12, 2019

    What is the very best method to search for blogs you have an interest in?

    Reply
  • John Deere Service Manuals#24

    April 10, 2019

    Great – I should certainly pronounce, impressed with your site. I had no trouble navigating through all tabs and related information ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it at all. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, web site theme . a tones way for your client to communicate. Nice task.

    Reply
  • Ira#25

    April 10, 2019

    Is it safe? . Safer than myspace?. Can you use myspace layouts for it?. How old do you how to be to have one?. . Please answer as many as possible . Thanx :].

    Reply
  • check this#26

    April 8, 2019

    What type of images am I ‘legally’ allowed to include in my blog posts?

    Reply
  • John Deere Diagnostic and Test Manuals#27

    April 6, 2019

    I don’t even know how I ended up right here, but I believed this submit used to be great. I don’t understand who you’re however certainly you are going to a famous blogger should you are not already Cheers!

    Reply
  • why not try here#28

    April 3, 2019

    I simply want to mention I am just new to blogging and site-building and seriously enjoyed this website. Almost certainly I’m want to bookmark your site . You amazingly come with amazing stories. Cheers for revealing your web page.

    Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *