Society

White Sorority's Controversial Win in "Stepping" Competition Reversed

| by Mark Berman

Debate is raging on college campuses and the Internet over a white sorority's victory in the traditionally black-dominated dance world of "stepping." But now the victory has been altered to include an additional 1st place (and black sorority) winner.

The controversy began last weekend when the all-white Zeta Tau Alpha team from the University of Arkansas (left) beat out five other sorority teams to win the Sprite Step Off competition.

Here is its performance:

show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uC2Mv_EJud8

Here is the performance by the original second place team, the Alpha Kappa Alpha team from Indiana University:

show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1swlMFa3pvw

Although the crowd reacted positively to the white group during its performance, it was none-too-pleased when the final judging was announced:

show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o42CsR-K0Mo

For the past week people have been arguing back and forth about who should have won, and whether white people should compete in an African-inspired tradition in the first place.

"What has happened is black youth culture, what people would call hip hop, sort of made black culture accessible and appealing to all kinds of people," said Walter Kimbrough, president of historically black Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark., and an expert on black Greek life. "It really now has become an American experience."

But late last week sponsor Coca-Cola announced a "scoring discrepancy:"

After the National Finals Competition this past weekend in Atlanta wrapped, we got together to do our post-competition review and found a scoring discrepancy in the sorority results. After looking at it and looking at it AGAIN, we determined there isn’t a definitive resolution.

Sprite is all about preserving the honesty and integrity of this competition. Because the scoring discrepancy can’t be resolved and due to the really tight margin between the first and second place sorors, we feel that the only right thing to do is to name both Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Tau Chapter & Zeta Tau Alpha, Epsilon Chapter, co-first place winners of the Sprite Step Off.

Now each sorority will receive $100,000 in scholarships.

So while the scoring debate rages, another question remains -- should once ethnically exclusive stepping competitions be limited to black performers? Tell us what you think.