March, but with no Greek paraphernalia

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Two prominent Black sororities, the AKAs and the Deltas asked that their membership refrain from wearing their Greek paraphernalia while protesting the recent verdicts freeing officers for wrongdoings in the killing of Black young men. Since it first came out, the AKAs have rescinded their stance on the subject. Many find it ironic that any fraternal group or sisterhood group would ask their members not to wear their symbols, as if it would be embarrassing for their organization. In fact, many protesters and activists are asking why fraternities and sororities aren’t more involved in the struggle to bring justice through change—to insure that our young men’s lives mean something.

This is not a time to waver but to show solidarity. The public, especially those who question Black Greek letter organization’s meaning and purpose, are counting on our participation. Black Greek letter organizations historically have been conduits bringing about positive and productive changes to our communities. While many outsiders look at our fraternal and sister organizations as pompous party throwers full of themselves, they rarely see the positive effect played in our communities. They don’t see the multitude of scholarships offered to young students. They don’t see the mentoring and tutorial services given to children in our communities. They don’t see the efforts in sponsoring sports teams to keep young people of the street. They don’t see the humanitarian endeavors in providing Thanksgiving and Christmas boxes of food for those less fortunate as well as toys and books for the children. They don’t see the positive effect Greeks have on our children by presenting themselves as role models and promoting education as the ultimate tool for success and self-improvement.

No one should apologize for their academic status in improving themselves unless they use their position and status to berate and belittle those whom they feel don’t meet their standards. Sometimes when blessed with all the trapping of materialism and status, some forget ‘who they are.’ When one is mistreated, we all are being mistreated. I would think that anyone belonging to an organization or group would gladly do what is necessary to improve the plight of children. Right now it is about protesting and boycotting. You should not have to ask for permission from any one person, group, or organization for doing what you feel in your heart is right.

Black Greek letter organizations such Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Zeta Phi Beta have a long history in working to overcome racial discrimination and injustice in our system. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an Alpha; Ralph Abernathy, a Kappa; and Jessie Jackson an Omega. You can bet that members of their fraternal orders worked diligently to support their efforts. Everyone knows without the support and diligent work of Black women in combating social issues, the effort is futile. Our affiliation and association with Greek organizations provides us a source to deliver and utilize our talents and gifts. It is through serving our communities we meet our ultimate goal. So please refrain from this foolishness about not allowing the world to know who we are. We are here to help make a difference. I would suggest that those leaders in fraternal and sisterhood organizations be mindful of the feelings of the members they serve and refrain from hidden agendas. If Eurocentric businesses back off from sponsoring or offering donations to some of our programs because our members are active in the protests, it will show us what these companies are all about. We must refuse to be puppets controlled by their agenda. We cannot hide our light.

Many young people thought the more potent question was not about Greeks wearing or not wearing their paraphernalia, but the lack of church involvement. Our young Black adults are questioning the lack of leadership from what used to be the stalwart of the Black community, the church. Ummm, that’s interesting.