This is a call in NOT a call out. I am not writing this to attack Kappa Alpha Psi or “put them on blast” or anything like that. I am writing this out of a place of concern and accountability, and because I have the privilege to be able to say something. I am a member of the Divine Nine so that gives me a little more room to be critical of the black Greek community. As wrong as it may be, we do not typically welcome feedback or critique from non-greek individuals…but that’s a whole other blog for a whole other day.
So to the issue at hand: yesterday, I cam across a flyer for a pre-Super Bowl party on Facebook. I read it to see who was hosting it and to my surprise, it was a chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. I was shocked. I was like, hold up (insert thinking face emoji)…how? I immediately had lots of questions.
I think most of us know that Colin Kaepernick is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. And many of know that he is still a National Football League (NFL) free agent, with no teams signing him this season, despite him being statistically “better” than other quarterbacks who were signed. Some believe that Kaepernick has been blackballed for sparking protests during the national anthem before the start of games.
Ironically, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. believes Kaepernick has been blackballed. In August 2017, the Grand Polemarch of the Fraternity sent a letter to the NFL Commissioner stating that he believes that Kaepernick has been “blackballed solely for exercising his Constitutional right to free speech,” and he expressed understanding for why Kaepernick kneeled stating that “enough is enough.” The letter ended with an urge for a public statement signaling an “all clear” to all the NFL teams in regard to Kaepernick, and the Grand Polmarch also offered Kappa Alpha Psi’s (pro bono) services to engage in dialogue regarding the issue.
Then, later in August 2017, members of the Fraternity showed up in masses at the United We stand Rally, a protest in solidarity with Kaepernick in front of the NFL Headquarters in New York. Kappa members from the New York area were present, as well as members from various parts of the nation. Members also showed support through social media.
This is why I was shocked to see a chapter of the Fraternity hosting a pre-Super Bowl party, a celebration of the same organization that has “blackballed” a fraternity brother and that many members have protested. To host this party is contradicting to the stance of the international organization and shows zero cares for what Colin Kaepernick has and is still experiencing with the NFL.
(Note: I am not naive enough to think that all Divine Nine members, let alone all black people, are boycotting the NFL. I know that some people are watching and that’s each individual’s business. But if there’s going to be a Super Bowl party, can we at least not host them in the name of the organization that Kaepernick is a member of? Or any of our organizations, for that matter?)
Again, this is a call in NOT a call out. And it’s honestly not just to the Kappas; this message is for all of us because this could have been any of our organizations, and there will probably be members from all of our orgs at this party so we’re all responsible.
I’m gonna go ahead and say something that we don’t like to hear but as wrong or right as it may be, it is the perception and perception is reality: some non-Greek people question our commitment to uplifting the black community. They say we’re self-serving and elitist, committed to uplifting our members but looking down and distancing ourselves from the rest of the black community and the issues they face. Of course, many of us see it differently and think they just don’t understand.
We often run down our list of honorable mentions to “prove” that we are indeed about black liberation and are even the leaders of it: Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Nikki Giovanni, Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson, Huey P. Newton, just to name a few. And recently, many of us have added Colin Kaepernick to that list. But what does it mean when we proudly claim these members so that our organizations are viewed in high regard but we don’t actually support them or take action that carries on their legacies?
While I personally think it’s past time for us to take a stronger stance in this movement for black lives, I know that that perspective is debatable. But when we can’t even support our own members, I am very concerned. If we don’t even care enough to support our own members who are leaders in this movement, is it unrealistic to expect that we’ll take action in other ways throughout this movement?
I honestly pray that the answer to that question is no because I believe that we have the power, privilege, influence, resources, numbers, education, and more to make a huge impact; and I think it is our duty. But in order to do that, this kind of stuff has to stop. We have got to care. We have got to be mindful. We have to be intentional. And, we have to be consistent.
This is a call in NOT a call out.