Coronavirus COVID-19 Greek Life Higher Ed Higher Education Social Justice Student Affairs Uncategorized

Don’t be like black Greeks. Take social distancing seriously.

Originally written on March 15, 2020

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Black Greek for Black Lives an initiative that promotes black Greek commitment to uplifting the black community through social change work. Learn more and shop products at, and follow @blackgreeksforblacklives.

The world has stopped. This time a week ago, most of us would not have imagined that our lives would literally be shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 7, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) re-defined social distancing to mean “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.” From there, we saw events and conferences cancelled, even staple conferences like SXSW. We also began to see colleges and universities suspend in-person classes and transition to online learning. Then, the NBA cancelled the remainder of its season, followed by the NCAA, MLB, MHL, and many more sports organizations cancelling or postponing in various ways. Mayors and governors of various cities and states also began to mandate that no “large gatherings” be held, with the primary goal of preventing COVID-19 from spreading rapidly, and the biggest fear being an overwhelmed healthcare system.

So, on Wednesday March 11, the night before my sorority’s regional conference was scheduled to begin, I didn’t worry about packing. I was certain that I would receive an email any minute saying that …out of care for our sorors and greater society, we have made the decision to cancel/postpone our regional conferences. While this is disappointing to us all, this is the right and necessary decision. But, that email never came (prior to the conference starting).

This specific regional conference, as well as multiple other Black Greek-Letter Organization (BGLO) regional conferences (with two being held in the same city) moved forward according to schedule. Thousands of sorority and fraternity members traveled to the respective hosting cities, despite social distancing being urged from government organizations and leaders; despite the precedent that had been set by many other organizations prior to the start of the regional conferences.

So why didn’t BGLO leaders cancel? What made us think we were exempt from taking the same precautions?

I am not certain of the ultimate answer but I can’t help but wonder if BGLO leadership was more concerned about money (loss) than the safety of our members and fellow citizens. Various actions taken by the organization leaders lead me to this thought. For example, prior to one of the conferences being cancelled, allegedly, undergraduate members were told they would not receive registration refunds, even though they could no longer attend due to their university prohibiting all student organization travel. Additionally, one organization sent out an email to its members postponing an upcoming national service initiative due to COVID-19, but did not postpone their regional conference that was happening at that exact moment. And, after ending their conference early, one organization (that I am aware of) kept the vendor area open for members to patronize. Maybe it’s just me but the theme seems clear and consistent.

While I appreciate that some of the conferences were cancelled on the second day, the cancellation was too late. By this point, thousands of members had come in contact with thousands of other people through travel, restaurants, shopping, hotels, conference luncheons, conference meetings/receptions, hugs, handshakes, coughs, and so much more. These interactions and points of contact impacted not only the conference attendees but also the citizens of the hosting cities. So even though the conferences were eventually cancelled, the damage was already done. The risk that would have been mitigated by social distancing was already activated, and even though the thousands of members (possibly) headed home early, they were already exponentially more likely to carry the virus as they dispersed to cities all over the country, putting themselves, as well as their loved ones, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and community members more at risk. And for the BGLOs that did not cancel and executed their regional conferences in their entirety…well…that could be an entirely separate op ed.

This social distancing thing is no joke. If we look to other countries, we can see what happens if we don’t practice it. Italy experienced a 20 percent increase of new virus cases in one day, and “they cited irresponsible behavior by many citizens, who despite the earlier warnings not to gather in large numbers, headed to beaches or ski resorts, and hung out together in town squares, especially after the closure of schools.” Gathering in large numbers exponentially increases the risk of the virus not only spreading, but spreading quickly. So, it was completely irresponsible for our organizations to move forward with hosting regional conferences. If someone who attended any of these regional conferences ends up testing positive for COVID-19, trying to pinpoint all who that person has come in contact with (and all who those individuals have come in contact with, and so on) would be essentially impossible; and the responsibility of the virus spreading at a faster rate, and any health complications that those people experience from the virus, would be on us.

It is disappointing and upsetting to see our BGLO leadership miss the mark here. We pride ourselves on being leaders in our communities; people who show others the way. Instead, of leading the way and modeling a commitment to social distancing, we contributed to the idea that social distancing and the spread of COVID-19 are not to be taken seriously. Instead of modeling decision making for the greater good of our society, we modeled selfish decision making, and we may now be part of the reason that the virus continues to spread rapidly. 

People making selfish decisions like ours will lead to us essentially being on complete lock down. Social distancing recommendations have been made but like us, many are ignoring the recommendations, still hosting large events and gatherings; still going out to clubs and other social venues; still traveling. This has caused the recommended number of people gathered to continue to decrease, with the CDC now recommending no events over 50 people for the next 8 weeksIf we do not voluntarily consent to these recommendations, we will be forced to follow mandates that are even more strict than the initial recommendations, causing us to sacrifice and lose even more than we already have.

We are organizations with a mission to serve our communities. It is important that we center that value at all times and above all else. There will never be a welcome reception, luncheon, business meeting, gala, step show, chapter member selfie, conference bag, vendor exhibit, or registration fee that is more important than the safety and well-being of our society; more important than us doing our part to be responsible citizens. Unfortunately, it looks like this may only be the beginning of this pandemic in the US, and I am hopeful that naming this misstep now will help us to be the servant leaders that our communities will need us to be as we continue to combat this pandemic.


20171116-IMG_8832Aleidra Allen is a social entrepreneur and founder of Purpose In Everything (PIE), an online retailer of ethically made products that adds purpose to purchases by donating 5 percent of the net sales to social change work. She is also the creator of Black Greek for Black Lives, an initiative that promotes black Greek commitment to uplifting the black community through social change work. Aleidra has a background in diversity education and facilitates diversity workshops and trainings, and gives keynotes. Learn more and shop products at and, or follow @piemovement and @blackgreeksforblacklives.

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This is a Call In NOT a Call Out: Why are Kappas Hosting a (Pre) Super Bowl Party?

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.

IMG_1911So 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.kaep

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.

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 10.15.34 PMThen, 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.

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3 Ways to Share Our Stepping & Strolling Traditions without Giving Away Our Culture

Aleidra’s piece is featured on

Should Black Greek-Letter Organizations (BGLOs) teach white, non-BGLO people how to step? This is an ongoing question and debate within the BGLO community, and honestly, I understand all the various perspectives.

With that, I understand that teaching stepping and strolling to non-BGLO members has become a popular collegiate norm. So for our members that are partaking in this new college tradition, here’s my piece,  3 Ways to Share Our Stepping & Strolling Traditions without Giving Away Our Culture, to help you do so in a meaningful way.