Recently, I was blackballed from a women's organization in which I had been a member for 46 years. No reason was given for this decision and I was at a loss to determine why; indeed, now the other members won't even speak to me. Had I inadvertently stepped on someone's toes, insulted another member's mother, husband, child...pet aardvark? Never one to deliberately make waves, I am still at a loss as to the cause for my expulsion; nevertheless, expelled I am--with a vengeance!
Black-balling is a very interesting little bit of History--as well as a fine example of Human Behavior.
The method of black-balling a person began with the ancient Greeks who used the ostrakhon (a piece of shell or potsherd) in voting: a white piece was a positive vote, a black piece a negative. Thus were people excluded from membership in seats of government. Often, a man's entire social standing could be brought down by the refusal of his peers to allow him entry into their elite society.
The technique was later used in Eighteenth Century gentlemen's clubs, as well as other organizations developed along those same lines (such as the Freemasons and college fraternities) in order to retain the principles of the club--as well as keeping out the riff-raff and other undesirables. Since the vote was secret (balls or ballots placed in a box), there was no way one could discover the identity of the one objecting. This also made the club itself exclusive since each prospect had been invited to join by someone already a member. Thus each member would already be known by two others--the one who nominated him and the one he nominated. This insured that all participants were compatible and had more or less the same mind-set.
Although in most clubs, the use of a single black ball no longer can be disastrous to a prospective member's election, in some organizations, this once could have been the case. Roberts' Rules of Order also recognizes the black-ball and notes that there are now rules to make certain no one person can wield such power.
The term black-ball has now come to be synonymous with black-listing.
Black-ball, black-listing, whatever.... I'm neither devastated nor demoralized by my peers' successful attempt to oust me from their ranks...just confused, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. No problem. I'll just use it in a novel some day.
(This blog was prepared with the aid of the Internet and www.wikipedia.org, the free encyclopedia, available in ten languages.)
Posted by Toni V.S. | 11:43 AM | black-ball, black-listing, fraternities, men's clubs, Roberts Rules of Order, social organizations, Toni V. Sweeney | 6 comments »