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Did biased rule changes knock White sorority off winner's contest platform?

In February during Black History a White sorority crossed over into what has been historically black fraternities and sororities territory in winning a Black Step competition in Atlanta, Georgia. The young women of Zeta Tau Alpha, a predominantly White sorority of well heeled steppers from the University of Arkansas beat out five other teams in the final round to win the national Sprite Step-Off competition and the $100,000 prize.

White Sorority zeta tau alpha wins Sprite Step Off Contest...Or did they???
AP- Sprite John Amis

Unfortunately for the young women of Zeta Tau Alpha that started the competition with eighty teams from fraternities and sororities at forty universities their coveted first place win was not the rest of the story. It seems that while blacks have for decades been shattering barriers in baseball, basketball, golf and finally the presidency of the United States, during Black History month, being a winning white team was somehow stepping over the color line.  A few days after the stunning February 20th performance the white sisters in step from Arkansas were not allowed to win fairly with their talent and their character on the dance floor even if the results were originally fairly tabulated.

It seems that there was a deluge of race oriented complaints that followed after the contest. According to press reports many citizens of color who were there, as well as countless online complaints from disappointed blacks rained down upon Sprite like an unrelenting stream.

So Sprite had to find a way to maneuver itself into a win-win scenario that if this same treatment had been afforded to black performers in a nearly all white venue, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Rev, Al Sharpton and a host of other black leaders would have descended upon Sprite’s corporate headquarters in a New York minute calling for nation wide boycotts.

One can probably guess what happened next. Five days later Sprite found an error and wonders of wonders, the numbers were recounted and the competition was called a tie!  So during Black History month a fine wonderfully entertaining African American college Greek tradition was sent to the back of the bus.

So now after Rosa Parks stood up for civil rights and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. marched for equal rights, and Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, Sprite seemed to refuse to ignore color and awarded a tie to both Zeta Tau Alpha and Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Tau chapter which is a black sorority. Both teams received $100,000. A haunting price to pay for racial inequality.

Here is a question for America to answer. Are traditions only meant to be broken by Black Americans as long as they are the other race’s traditions?

It is fair to surmise that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would not agree, nor should America, white or black.

Do you agree or disagree. Let me know what you think by commenting at:


  • bruce 5 years ago

    No surprises here.
    Nothing wrong with racial prejudice as long as its "correct" racial prejudice.
    Just like electing a president based on skin color is cool if it's the "correct" skin color, ignoring the fact that it is NOT following what MLK preached: Judging people by their character, not the color of their skin.

  • Doug 5 years ago

    Racism is a alive and well in Black America. I was called to a job interview last year and it was clear that the black HR person had thought I was black on the phone. Although she had asked me to come to the job fair to conduct an interview, she just handed me an info folder and told me thanks for coming, without asking a single question or even having a short conversation. Just for interest I stuck around the job fair and noticed that 3 black candidates got interviewed and 4 white candidates got the same treatment I did. Further, I struck up a conversation with one of the candidates of appropriate color afterwards and wasn't surprised to learn that I was vastly more qualified for the position. Whites have no recourse in such situations, as the law descriminates against us.

  • Dennis 5 years ago

    Did the U. of Arkansas team accept their money, and, if so, why? The only acceptable response would have been to skip the ceremony and leave.

  • Shay 5 years ago

    While Zeta Tau Alpha was definitely the best sorority step team, Mr. Fobbs forgot to mention in his piece that ZTA stole moves associated with virtually every Divine Nine organization out there and combined it in their routine (an unwritten no-no). E.g., there were moves clearly identified with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity (e.g., the "Sigma Nutcracker" move that they used to start their routine), Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (the AKAs at University of Arkansas taught the ZTA chapter how to step, 15 years ago; the AKAs at Indiana University originally placed second at the competition). There was nothing uniquely ZTA about their routine. ZTA also booty popped at the end of their routine, which is a clear violation of competition rules against sexually suggestive moves.

    However, Sprite was bogus with the non-defined "scoring discrepancy" (don't they double check judges' scores?) and should've let the original result stand.

  • Kim 5 years ago

    I was at the competition. ZTA clearly won fair and square. To say they shouldn't even have been permitted to compete begs the question, why not until after they won the entire national competition did this argument come up? why didn't this argument come up when they won the regionals in Houston? this is clearly poor sportsmanship on part of other teams. Why can't you just congratulate the ZTA's for a job well done and executed? Like the EMC said, Steppin is for everybody, if you can step, you can step.

  • TheWatcher 5 years ago

    It seems more and more that it is OK for some people to be prejudiced. Give it up the white girls won it

  • Barbara 5 years ago

    As more people like yourself bring these truths to the forefront, we (Americans) will move closer to true equality in this country. Everyone will have to "step" up their game to get what they want in life and entitlement/participation based on color will be a thing of the past. Well written article, thank you!

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