Yesterday I saw the flip side of the sorority coin. It was surprising, and I was alternately bewildered and awestruck through the whole thing. It was, honestly, not something I could have made up, or my little brother could have made up, and that's saying something. Garrett is a notorious "story" teller.

I went to a probate show to support one of my dearest friends in the whole world, to congratulate her on making it through months of dedication to something we knew very little about, and also to satisfy my own personal curiosity--once I saw a step show outside the LBC and it was confusing. So I went to Mor's probate show, which is like a debutante ball for her sorority, but instead of white dresses they had sweater vests, and instead of ballroom dancing they were stepping, and also in one part they wore black hoods, which I'm pretty sure they don't do at a debutante ball. So actually it's nothing like a deb ball.

It's actually nothing like anything I've ever been to or experienced, and to be honest, I don't have words to describe it. Which is also really saying something because if I have anything going for me, it's that most of the time I can tell people exactly what I think and how I feel through the written word. Right now I'm struggling. Major strugs with vocab. In fact, my friend Lindsay text me during and asked how the probate show was going, and later I text back, no words!! just like that. No words then, no words now. Also, the differences between my greek life, and Morgan's greek life, are enormous. Different sizes, different recruitments, different songs, different ruling body, different chants, different traditions, different coming out traditions, different pictures poses...and that's just the obvious stuff. I can't accurately explain anything, and I don't understand all of the significance that was going on, but I'm afraid I'll get things wrong, and then I'll offend some Deltas, and then I'll have no hope of making it to see 20, and then the Lauren Turns 20 Program will all be in vain. And we certainly cannot have that. Gooogle probate show and stepping--wikipedia can explain it better probably. Also probably not too though because most of the traditions are secret. It's complicated.

So I suppose I'll just have to say that I didn't understand the saying a proud black woman until I saw those 14 girls on stage radiating a ferocity I do not possess. Each one had a confidence and sense of self that I do not have. They looked so strong, and so defiant. And everyone else in the crowd, all the other black people, they got it. Whatever it was that those girls had, they had it too. They were the picture of pride, and there was something so ancient and time-honored in everything they were doing--I can't quite put my finger on it, but I know I was resoundingly and unequivocally an outsider.

I know that I come from a strong line of women too. My ancestors crossed the Oregon Trail and have risked life and limb for their families, and beat cancer, and raised more strong, successful women. And those are all things that warrant respect, and I appreciate where I come from. But what I don't come from is a people who were told they weren't people. I don't come from a line of women who can go back onto plantations where their ancestors were slaves. No one I am a descendant of know what it's like to fight for their very freedom, to be recognized as a human being.

Does that make all the difference? In some ways, without a doubt. In other ways, probably not. I think that racial awareness is greater here than at home by a lot--it really wasn't until I got here that I really thought hard about that tragic part of United States history known as slavery, because the after effects are stil lingering today in New Orleans and in the South. At home we're so removed from the epicenter of the tragedy that it doesn't permeate the culture the same way. I know that I'll have to consider the big picture when I go to Senegal too, but more on that later.

I read a book once called The Help and I was thinking about it at the show. It's a good, quick, easy read that ya'll should pick up sometime and it essentially paints a portrait of different kinds of women during and after the Civil Rights movement. There was one portrait of white women that stuck with me--the mean white woman. She is manipulative and selfish, conceited, ruthless, willing to do anything to get her way, but also exceedingly polite. And sometimes I wonder if that's who I am--because there have been many times in my life where I have cleverly deceived people into doing what I want, to being what I want, but without ruffling any feathers. I was taught to mind my manners. And when I looked up on stage, I saw people who were far stronger than I was, who knew what it was like to not get your way and still stand up. Who understood what it really meant to struggle.

I looked up there and wanted to say I'm sorry! I'm sorry for what we did to you! But on second thought, but they didn't seem like they needed or wanted pity. So I settled for deep admiration and what I hoped was mutual respect. And when they came down after the show they were all so nice. But I still wouldn't cross any of them. I'm just saying. And I don't think, in the end, I'm the mean white woman--that's a tradition I'd rather not carry on. Also practicing kindness and not shrewdness is part of the Lauren Turns 20 Program, which is rapidly coming to a close so I have to ram things into top gear in terms of being ready for my momentous 20th birthday. I'm not that mean really, at all. Just when I'm cranky or mad at you. Don't cross me, either. I'm just saying.

The probate show was altogether an enriching experience---even though I was on the outside of the celebration, and I didn't understand hardly any of it, and it was far more primal and intimidating than anything else, I'm glad I went. No harm in broadening horizons.

And now I think it's time for my sorority and Mor's sorority to do a step show together. That would be an enriching experience.

xoxo, Lauren