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

BG4BLgroup (1)
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.

#BlackLivesMatter #STLVerdict Ferguson Freedom Police Brutality Race Social Justice St. Louis Uncategorized

#STLVerdict: Let’s Talk About Vandalism and “Peaceful Protests”

Three years after the murder of Mike Brown and the St. Louis region finds itself in a similar situation. Another police officer has walked free, a family is reliving the pain of their loved one’s murder while being denied justice, and the community has taken to the streets to show that we will not tolerate the continuous killings of black people by police, nor officers doing so without conviction.

What’s also the same is how elected government officials and the St. Louis Police Department (STLPD) are responding. Before to the verdict was released and prior to any protests occurring, the governor of Missouri activated the National Guard and the STLPD announced that they would be moving to 12-hour shifts. Then, as soon as the protests began, multiple transit buses of STLPD met protestors outside the courthouse dressed in riot gear with shields and batons, in broad daylight. The police showed up with the intention to antagonize, literally from the moment people arrived to protest…before ANYTHING had happened.

Photo of STLPD officer, surrounded by rows of other officers in riot gear, on 9/15/17, about 3 hours after the verdict was released.

So knowing that, it’s by no surprise that the police and the media are pushing the same narrative from three years ago: the protestors are violent and vandalizing property. I really don’t want to spend a ton of time on this point because I really feel like the conversation has been exhausted. But I’ll say it one more time, briefly: we are not doing this. The people who come out and protest are not interested in nor do we condone vandalism. However, there are agitators who come to our spaces of protest and do these things. You all should notice that this typically happens after nightfall. If you all pay attention to our protests, we don’t begin at nightfall. We have literally been protesting all day for the past 48 hours. The large majority of the time, you hear and see no reports of anything being vandalized, because nothing is being vandalized. But when a window gets broken at 11 pm the police and the media use this as an opportunity to change the narrative and make it about violent “protestors” instead of focusing on how hundreds of people of all different backgrounds have continued to show community and take a stand against the continuous non-convicted murders of black people by police.

But again, I’m not surprised by this. The police are a part of the system and the system is guilty. So of course they’re going to try to turn this around and divert the attention from their corruption. But what I am so frustrated by and tired of is the people buying into this narrative. All the statuses and comments about how you don’t understand what breaking things is going to do only elevates this false narrative that the police and media are trying to create. You are helping them achieve exactly what they want because now we’re all talking about vandalism instead of the fact that this officer murdered a black person and walked free. The protestors are not the ones vandalizing property. It’s a small group of agitators. Understand that and stop mentioning it in association to the protests. Every time you do, you are assisting the police and media in smearing this movement.



However, while we do not condone vandalism, we understand that people are hurting and hurt people hurt people. So try to be less judgmental and think more about what has happened that has caused people to resort to vandalism. A broken window matters less than a life taken by police brutality. So for every post or comment you’ve made about vandalism, I hope you have 50 times more posts and comments about black people being killed by officers, and the officers walking free.

And also, don’t believe that all of the vandalism is coming from the agitators. There’s video of police breaking the window of a local business in the Central West End on 9/15/2017.

Lastly, I want to request that everyone stop saying “peaceful protest.” Our goal is not to be peaceful. There is nothing peaceful about a protest– that would not be a protest. You can say non-violent protest, but not peaceful. As the familiar protest chant goes, “no justice, no peace.”

Simply put, Anthony Lamar Smith did not receive justice so St. Louis will not have peace. Traffic flow will be disrupted and people will not commute in peace. Neighborhoods will be disrupted and people will not lounge in peace. Malls will be disrupted and people will not shop in peace. Restaurant strips will be disrupted and people will not eat in peace. Business will be disrupted and profit will be lost. But that’s the exact point. The judicial system did not render justice so we will continue to disrupt and keep the attention on this unjust situation, impacting people and profits directly until we get justice. Because we know that, unfortunately, people often tolerate injustice until it impacts them directly. Once it impacts folks directly, they are then motivated to act and make decisions that render the justice we’ve been demanding all along.

Any disruption that people experience from our protests pales in comparison to the disruption of the lives of the families of victims of police brutality. We just want justice. The sooner we get it, the sooner there will be peace. Know justice, know peace.

#AltonSterling #BlackLivesMatter #PhilandoCastile Police Brutality Social Justice Uncategorized

Your Unity Posts Aren’t Saying What You Think 

I’m struggling so I’m gonna have a vulnerable moment with y’all, and I know many won’t agree and that is totally fine.


 I can’t take much more of y’all posting these pictures and videos of black people hugging and praying with (white) counter protestors, black people smiling with the police, little black and white kids being friends, etc. I mean, it is wearing me out.



It’s not because I don’t believe these things happen or should happen. It’s just that clearly, these things do not keep black people from experiencing injustice. So clearly, they are not the solution. Even with “good officers” and black people and white people being friends, black people are still being murdered by police, receiving harsher sentences in court, going to under resourced schools, making lesser wages in the same positions as white people, and experiencing many other forms of injustice. None of these posts and videos acknowledge or address this. These color-blind, “we’re all one” videos and posts are not going to get black people free.


They actually are keeping us from freedom. Every time you post these things (and I see both black and white people doing this), you give people the opportunity to ignore the plight of black people. You are sending the message of, “see, it’s not that bad. There are still good people.” And that causes you and others to ignore the injustice and issues that ARE actually happening. This only causes people who don’t understand #BlackLivesMatter to further believe that this movement is not necessary. These messages are so neutral and we know that if you’re neutral, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.


Stop being neutral. Your neutrality does absolutely nothing for those being oppressed. Your neutrality is not helping the families of #AltonSterling, #PhilandoCastile, or any other police brutality victim get justice. It’s actually making it harder for them to because you’re countering what their loved one experienced. You’re basically saying, “yeah I know an officer killed your family member but look at this officer playing with this cute kid…everything is fine.” This stuff is the biggest slap in the face to these families and this movement.


Change will require us to acknowledge and call out these issues directly, not generally or subliminally (that’s the problem with #AllLivesMatter). If you were at work or having an issue at home, you would not go about developing and identifying a solution in a indirect way. If you were sick, you wouldn’t want your doctor focusing on less relevant, indirectly related parts of your body to heal you. You would want them to address the problem head on. So why do we think this is an appropriate solution when it comes to the injustice of black people?


Some of you need to realize that you are in denial. And honestly, I get that. No one wants to accept that our world is this messed up. It’s hurtful, depressing, frustrating, all of that. But we know that the first step to overcoming a problem is admitting that we have one. So please, if you really want change to happen, please get out of denial and call it what it is.


I am not anti-unity but what I am not going to do is promote (a neutral) unity as the ultimate solution at the expense of us ignoring the real issue. No. Not when people are being murdered. Unity is necessary but what’s really going to bring justice and keep more people from becoming hashtags is acknowledgement and change to the systems, like police organizations, that are systemically racist. Not your little touchy, feely video.


If you want to promote true unity, unite with us and stand up against these racist and unjust systems. People coming together and fighting against wrong, regardless of their race, socio-economic status, religion, nationality, sexuality, and any other identity, will show organizations and our government officials that it’s truly time for change. And that’s the radical type of unity we need. 


#BlackLivesMatter Allyship Race Uncategorized White Privilege

Can White People Talk About the #StateOfBlackAmerica? 

There was some controversy over SamWhiteout‘s appearance on #StateOfBlackAmerica. I tweeted Sam about it, and you can check out my tweet in this article.

The topic of the panel was “Confronting Race and Privilege.” Allyship is important and necessary to deconstruct white privilege and white supremacy. White people cannot and should not speak to the black experience; they have not lived it. However, white people can acknowledge how they benefit from white privilege and white supremacy, AND intentionally work against those systems.

What do y’all think about this?

#BlackFutureMonth #BlackLivesMatter #CharlestonShooting #EverydayBlackHistory Art Black History Black History Month Race Social Justice Uncategorized

#EverydayBlackHistory Day 8- Visual Artist John Jennings

jjThere’s a space and place for all of us in this movement. How we express our perspectives and seek justice and freedom will look differently for each of us, and that’s okay. Some of us will educate, some will protest, some will open non-profit organizations or businesses, some will meet with government leaders…and the list goes on. But one man, John Jennings, is using his art to start a revolution.

John Jennings is a visual artists who challenges the typical portrayal of black expression by creating work that goes outside of that confine. He bases his work on these questionsHow can we show the work of underrepresented artists, especially those who do comics (see list of books below)? How can we go beyond the racial stereotypes of traditional comic art to show the rich expression of black artists, past and present? John Jennings explains, “we have to understand that stereotypical images are designed to function in a particular way. They all have purposes in how the Black body is perceived. The work that I do and that my colleagues create offer alternatives to those constructions and gives the Black audience choices on multiple levels.

Black TwitterYou may have come across some of John Jennings work withoutmother even realizing it. John Jennings is the creator of #BLKPWRTWITTR, a remake of the Twitter logo that was created after the murders of nine innocent black lives at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. John Jennings was looking for a way to express his range of emotions and show unity. He also created the piece, Tears of Mother Emanuel.

Today, we celebrate John Jennings for using his gift to tear down stereotypes, create a space for underrepresented artists, and giving us a visual component to the movement. We are thankful to experience this black history in the making.


Here are some books by John Jennings:

Black Comix

What “black,” “art” and “culture” mean to a group of African-American artists.




Graphic novel is science fiction/horror story about buying and selling of race.



 Out of Sequence

 Underrepresented voices showcase their imaginative comic art.



#BlackLivesMatter #EverydayBlackHistory Black History Black History Month MLK Police Brutality Race Social Justice Uncategorized

#EverydayBlackHistory Day 1- Jimmie Lee Jackson

jimmie-lee-jacksonSome know about “Bloody Sunday,” a voting rights march that began in Selma, AL and ended in violence.  However, few know about Jimmie Lee Jackson, an activist whose death was the catalyst for the march in Selma, which lead to the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Jimmie Lee Jackson was a young man from Alabama who tried to register to vote numerous times but was denied due to the color of his skin. On February 18, 1965, when Jimmie was 26, he, his mother Viola Jackson, and his 82 year old grandfather Cager Lee, participated in a protest in Marion, AL. Protesters were attacked by state troopers and Jimmie and his grandfather sought refuge in a restaurant, Mack’s Cafe. In the cafe, Jimmie’s mother was being attacked by two state troopers. Jimmie went to her rescue, was thrown by a state trooper into a cigarette machine, and shot twice in the stomach by state trooper James Bonard Fowler.

Jimmie was taken to the Good Samaritan hospital in Selma, AL and appeared to be recovering. However, days later, Jimmie died.

The Black community was outraged. Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) organizer James Bevel stated “We will march Jimmie’s body to the state capitol in Montgomery and lie it on the steps so Governor George Wallace can see what he’s done.” While they did not do that, activists did plan a 54 mile march from Selma to Montgomery, AL on Sunday March 7, 1965, four days after Jimmie’s funeral. However, activists were met with violence at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, in what is know known as “Bloody Sunday.”

In 2007, James Bonard Fowler (at the age of 74) was indicted for the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson. He pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and served five months in prison.

Today, we remember Jimmie Lee Jackson, whose life was taken seeking justice. Many do not know his name or his story but his life and death played a major role in Black people gaining the right to vote in America.


Click here to read more about Jimmie Lee Jackson.





Janelle Monàe cut off while sharing message about black lives on ‘Today’