Joining a Black Greek Letter Organization is often a deeply personal and life-changing decision. These fraternities and sororities, also known as National Panhellenic Council organizations or Divine 9 organizations, are rooted in tradition, pride, brotherhood/sisterhood and community.

Usually, social media content about these organizations celebrates new members or historical markers. However, recently, a new trend has surfaced: members denouncing their affiliation with the groups.

There have been several videos on YouTube and TikTok that feature former members listing their reasons for cutting ties with the organizations. Many cite religious reasons and claims of idolatry, brainwashing and unbiblical practices within the groups.

One denouncement that caused major waves was made by Zora Sanders, an undergraduate at Howard University. In May 2024, Sanders released a statement denouncing her membership in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. The announcement came just weeks after she was initiated.

Sanders took to Instagram to post a letter listing the reasons for her decision. She stated that despite all the research she did on the organization, there were “non-negotioables” that she was unwilling to continue compromising on as time went on.

She noted instances where she felt religious conflict as well as what she considered “manipulation of scripture” that caused her to want to rescind her membership. Of course, Sanders isn’t the first to denounce membership in a Greek organization, but this current trend has shed light on their dynamics and why some choose to end their lifelong commitments.

Dontrell Williams denounced his membership in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., in 2022, telling Blavity that he initially joined the fraternity in search of a “brotherhood.”

He chose to go inactive in 2017, and while he didn’t provide specific details as to why he decided to denounce his membership, Williams revealed that he recently advised someone not to pledge for a fraternity after the two had a conversation that focused on spirituality.

While most of the individuals who denounced their memberships claimed ideological misalignment or an internal battle with ethics or principles, this raises the question of whether the conflict results from the person’s own natural evolution, rather than a specific issue with an organization.

An active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., who insisted on anonymity, argues the cause of it being the denouncers themselves rather than wide-ranging spiritual/ideological issues within the orgs.

“I believe that God speaks to everyone differently,” they told us. “Some individuals might receive divine insight that they have been idolizing their organization. The Bible explicitly warns against placing anything above God, cautioning against making idols of earthly things. This revelation might lead some to perceive that their organization is being idolized, even if this is a personal rather than a collective issue.”

They added, “Everyone is their own person, and just because someone else might idolize their organization doesn’t mean the next person is. That is where God comes in and brings you back to reality. I think that is the biggest problem: People take what they hear from God and try to apply it to the world. As the saying goes, ‘What God has for you is for you.'”

A member Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., who also wanted to remain anonymous, says the recent trend is simply attention-seeking.

“I fully believe the majority of the individuals denouncing are clearly engagement farming for clicks and banter amongst the masses,” the member said.

He said those jumping on the viral trend ultimately add to the spread of misinformation about D9 organizations. “Public perception and misinformation go a long way in the Divine 9. Members consistently fight against both regularly, thanks to social media,” he added. “The work that our organizations [do] and commitment to the community go from social justice to philanthropy. The actual commitment and service is most certainly there.”

He ultimately said individuals who join the viral denouncement trend should handle the matter privately and leave the “engagement farming to the real content creators.”

Social media users’ reactions to the increase in public announcements have been split. Some question whether individuals are attempting to escape from the work and commitment of being in the organizations by citing religion and morality. Many others interpret the announcements as validating negative stigmas about the organizations, such as elitism, forced secrecy and hazing.

The discourse was evident in the comments section when Sanders posted her denouncement letter on Instagram.

One social media user insinuated that this was a personal issue with Sanders, not a sorority issue. “This was not something that should be made available to the public. Your perceptions are your own, and you get what you put into it. If you feel as if you joined an organization that was not founded on our PUBLIC principles, then something YOU did was incorrect. If this sorority was not for you, then you shouldn’t have continued the process. May the Lord be with you 🫶🏾”

Another flipped Sanders’ use of scripture on her and suggested she “grow up.”

“It’s so funny you use Matthew 6 to make your claim for why my sorority isn’t founded on Christian principles. Matthew 6, in fact, is about not only service to the poor and marginalized, but *chastises* those who pray and boast their faith in public to be SEEN. What God has *allegedly* revealed to you, based on your scripture usage, is cherry picked to support this mess and actually doing the exact opposite of what Jesus calls us to do. Grow up and delete this.”

She did have some support in the comments from other former members.

“Hey girl I recently denounced my letters for Delta and I feel so free! I thank God for showing you the TRUE light🤎 Don’t listen to these other comments! You did the right thing. People will one day realize how EVIL these organizations truly are. Stay strong my sister in the Lord,” one person wrote.

Another pointed out that the reactions in the comments indicated there may be some truth to her allegations.

“There’s a lot of anger and frustration from those are in these organizations and I would say this., If it bothers you that much, then there must be some truth to what she’s referring to. Otherwise you would ignore this post and go on about your day. I think the main reason why these Greek people are so much in an uproar about what this young lady posted is because if the truth is exposed then the people are who are in these organizations won’t feel special and the allure to join or be apart of it will not be as important or glamorous as they portray it to be.”

Regardless of one’s thoughts on why someone would stay or leave a D9 organization, it is evident that these organizations have had an impact on the lives of Black people throughout time.

Notable members include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.), Shirley Chisholm (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.), Zora Neale Hurston (Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.), Vice President Kamala Harris (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc) and countless others, including those who have accepted honorary memberships.

Ultimately, joining a sorority or fraternity is a personal choice, and choosing to cease one’s affiliation with them is the same.

Regardless of the sensationalism of headlines surrounding the topic, choosing to condemn or endorse an organization should be based on an open dialogue and a willingness to challenge preconceived notions.

Neither should be met with backlash or scrutiny, especially from the Black community, which these organizations were created to serve and support.