Black Haze, Second Edition

Violence, Sacrifice, and Manhood in Black Greek-Letter Fraternities

By Ricky L. Jones

Subjects: African American Studies, Political Sociology, Violence, Social Problems
Series: SUNY series in African American Studies
Paperback : 9781438456720, 228 pages, June 2015
Hardcover : 9781438456737, 228 pages, June 2015

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Table of contents

Preface to the Second Edition: Black Haze Revisited
Preface to the First Edition
1. Hazing Then and Now
Concern, Change, and Questions
The Influence of the Ancient and Modern Worlds on Black Greek Violence
Falsehoods and Failure: The Epistemic Domino Effect and Ethics in Greekdom
2. Men, Media and Movements
Habermas, the Public Sphere, and a Critical Approach to the Media
            Problems with Habermas
BGFS, Social Movements, and Identity
The Politics of Personal Involvement: Gazing through Fraternity Men’s Eyes
3. The History of Black Greek-Letter Fraternities
American Greek-Letter Fraternalism
Black Entrance into American College Life
            The Exclusion of Blacks from White Greek Life
The Founding of Black Greek-letter Fraternities
            Alpha Phi Alpha
            Kappa Alpha Psi
            Omega Psi Phi
            Phi Beta Sigma
            Iota Phi Theta
BGF’s Political Involvement
The Depoliticization of BGFs
4. The Pledge Process as Sacrifice
Violence Vehicles: Rituals as Social Stabilizers
The Commonalities of Modern Fraternity Ritual
Hazing and the Symbolic Journey
The Lure of Liminality: The Ritualistic Remaking of the Self
5. The Hegemonic Struggle and Domination in Black Greek-Letter Fraternities
Violence, Power, Hegemony, and Domination
Educated Gangs? To Pledge or Not to Pledge
Conservatism and Domination
BGF Ruling Blocs and the Membership Intake Epidemic
6. Acceptance, Freedom, and Identity Construction in Black Greek-Letter Fraternities
Formations of the Black Male Self
            Economic Anxiety
            Black Identity Fragmentation
The Self, Selves, and the Victory of Consent
            Akrasia and Choice
7. Beyond the Fraternal Self
Afterword: Reflections On Failure
For Reputation and Revenue: The Champion and Sandusky Failures
The Organizational Bottom Line
The If Indictment

Expanded and revised edition of the first book devoted solely to black fraternity hazing.


Are black men naturally violent? Do they define manhood in the same way as their counterparts across lines of race? Are black Greek-letter fraternities among the most dangerous student organizations on American college and university campuses? Can their often-dangerous initiation processes be stopped or even modified and, if not, what should be done about them? In this second edition of Black Haze, Ricky L. Jones takes on these questions and more. The first edition was an enlightening and sometimes disturbing examination of American men's quest for acceptance, comfort, reaffirmation, and manhood in a world where their footing is often unstable. In this new edition Jones not only provides masterful philosophical and ethical analyses but he also forces the engagement of a terrifying real world process that damages and kills students with all too frequent regularity. With a revealing new preface and stunning afterword, Jones immerses the reader in an intriguing and dark world marked by hypermasculinity, unapologetic brutality, and sometimes death. He offers a compelling book that ranges well beyond the subject of hazing—one that yields perplexing questions and demands difficult choices as we move forward in addressing issues surrounding fraternities, violent hazing, black men, and American society.

Ricky L. Jones is Professor and Chair of the Department of Pan-African Studies at the University of Louisville and the author of What's Wrong with Obamamania? Black America, Black Leadership, and the Death of Political Imagination, also published by SUNY Press.


"…[an] impressive book … Highly recommended. " — CHOICE

"Black Haze is a landmark study on hazing culture within black Greek-letter organizations. With an insider's eye and scholar's touch, Jones masterfully captures the emic contours, complexities, and contradictions of black fraternity hazing as ritual act and cultural practice. This text is at once rigorous and accessible, theoretical and practical, classic and urgent. Anyone interested in understanding hazing, masculinity, BGLOs, or black cultural practice must read this book!" — Marc Lamont Hill, coauthor of The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black Life in America

"Ricky Jones's Black Haze is an important study of black male identity development. By examining black men's relationship with fraternities, he uncovers larger and brilliantly penetrating insights into issues of masculinity and political identity among African American males in the post-civil rights era. " — Peniel E. Joseph, author of Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America

"Black Haze is a compelling survey of black Greek-letter organizations, their history, purpose, and their most damning traditions. This is an examination of how the virtues of brotherhood and civic service coexist with brutal violence and cruelty within some of the oldest organizations in black America. Professor Jones has produced a vital contribution about a crucial and enduring problem. " — William Jelani Cobb, author of The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress

"Black Haze is a riveting coup de grâce against ritualized violence in black fraternities. The second edition of Black Haze is the most penetrating, illuminating, and articulate sociopolitical and cultural analysis of the chilling legacy of violence in black Greek-letter fraternities. As one of the world's leading authorities on black masculinity and organizations, Ricky Jones intelligently confronts traditional verities, social norms, and myths that seek to justify and continue ritualized violence in black fraternities through the courageous prism of a reformed insider dedicated to the preservation of black dignity and life. " — Jeremy I. Levitt, author of Black Women and International Law: Deliberate Interactions, Movements and Actions

Praise for the First Edition

"…provides valuable insights into the reasoning behind hazing, a practice that extends into the realms of sports and even high school, and is relevant for not only fraternity members and officials, but the general public as well. " — The Griot

"…an important contribution … because of the skillful manner in which Jones incorporates and critically analyzes relevant literature and other related scholarly writings … Jones, himself a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, offers personal observations as well as first-hand views and perceptions of hazing. " — Journal of College Student Development