Burning Sands is the new Netflix movie that focuses on the story of 5 young black men trying to become members of Lamba Phi, one of the top fraternities at their HBCU. All have different reasons for pledging but the one goal is to become part of the brotherhood. The film particularly focuses on Zurich Codell (Trevor Jackson) whose only focus is to do what his father couldn’t become a member of Lamba Phi.The film takes us through what is defined as hell week; the week where pledges are inaugurated into the fraternity but not until they face “hell”. Zurich and his other 4 line brothers go through vigorous tests to prove themselves as worthy of becoming part of the brotherhood.
Burning Sands is supposed to shed light on the misconduct that goes on behind the scenes when pledging to any fraternity. It’s supposed to show that although hazing is illegal it is still being done in the underground. This film is controversial, to say the least. The Greek community has highly scrutinized this film saying that GDI’s, (God-Damn Independents; a term used by those in the Greek life to regard those who are not) have no clue about what goes on behind the doors of a fraternity or a sorority. That the movie is exaggerated for theatrical appeal and can not be used as actual evidence that there is an overstepping of boundaries in Greek life.
But doesn’t the film have to have some type of truth to it because after all the film is directed and co-written by Gerald McCurray, a brother of the Omega Psi Psi fraternity.The Omega Psi Psi is one of the most know black fraternities. Omega Psi Psi is part of the “Divine Nine” fraternities and sororities located on HBCU campuses. The question being asked is, how does the film lack credibility if the people working on the film have first-hand knowledge of being a pledge? McCurray has not come out and directly said that he or one of his other line brothers have experienced what the 5 young men in the movie experienced, in fact, he has said the film has nothing to do with his experience at all. These 5 young men experience a variety of abuse that falls right along with torture but stayed through it all. The conversation McMurray wants to start is where the concept of brotherhood is pushed to the side and where power comes in and leads to abuse that in many ways are sadistic.
Although this film is not a true story it does have truth. One that cannot be pushed under the rug or regarded as simple mistakes. In fact impacted McCurray to create the film was the death of Robert Champion. Robert Champion was a Florida A&M University student who died in a hazing incident in 2011. And the list goes on. Countless others have lost their lives trying to prove their worth to sororities and fraternities. Do fraternities and sororities need to be shut down? No the purpose of them is to teach the ABC’s of life. But a conversation does need to be had about what members of these fraternities and sororities need to do in order to end abuse so bad that it can lead to death. Overall Burning Sands is a good movie, maybe it is a little exaggerated but I feel that it is that way to drive the point home. I recommend that everyone head on over to Netflix and watch it, for it is truly eye opening.