It’s a beautiful morning here in the nation’s capital and unfortunately I am at home, eating oatmeal and trying to nurse myself back to health after an overnight migraine and subsequent upset stomach. But I figured it would be a good time to pay some attention to my often neglected diary.
My diary (I have rarely called it a blog) used to be the hot shit back in 2004-2007. To this day, people ask me why I don’t write in it like I used to. One brother of Alpha recently gave me the kindest, sweetest text message ever, telling me that he had so much respect for me before he crossed because he kept up with my life through my diary. That respect carried over when we finally met face to face and became friends. I honestly either never knew he was a “fan” of my diary, or I didn’t understand then the weight that it held for people.
Now, I get it.
When you’re in a fraternity like Alpha, you will encounter dozens, if not hundreds of men, old and young, who join because of the status they wrongly predict it will bring them. Yes, being an Alpha carries weight in certain circles. In DC, I think being a member of an NPHC fraternity or sorority means something to most people of color here, and even among some white people.
But the weight means nothing if you have expectations of it. It’s sort of like being a Georgetown graduate. I might say, for shits and giggles, that I went to Georgetown *hair flip* and anything else is beneath me. But that’s just for fun. I actually don’t expect any perks from being a Georgetown grad and I am surprised when I get them, be it a closer look in the hiring process for a job, or being able to connect with alumni from our peer institutions more quickly, like Syracuse, Duke, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins.
Being an Alpha, to me, was never about the heft of the honor. It was about the brotherhood. In other words:
- Membership in Alpha is a responsibility: paying dues, showing up for meetings and programs, doing service, going to conventions.
- Brotherhood in Alpha is a courtesy: giving someone the benefit of the doubt, a second look, a helping hand.
- Friendship in Alpha is another matter entirely.
On tomorrow, I will have been an Alpha for nine years. For most of those years, I have been a member. I do not feel badly about the years in which I was inactive. For all of those years, I have been a brother. And to perhaps less than twenty, or even less than ten Alphas, I have been a friend.
When you’ve been through the things I’ve been through as a member, you tend to keep the circle small. For the long-term readers of my original site, you will recall the things that fellow members have done to me which were disrespectful and repugnant. My friends know even more. But somehow, I always made time to be there for an aspirant or two, as a sponsor, special, or just a friend. And I’ve been lucky to meet more recent initiates who gravitate toward me when they see me in Alpha-only forums giving some ignorant, homophobic Alpha a good dressing down. (A read, if you will.) I suppose they see in me an “I don’t give a fuck” attitude that they find entertaining, or maybe courageous. I don’t know. Maybe I will ask.
I know what Alpha says about being active. I know what I was taught about being active. And I understand that my presence is missed when I am not around, at least to some, sometimes. But ultimately, for me, being an Alpha meant being somebody’s brother for the first time – to extend certain courtesies to strangers because I knew we shared the same values, and to perhaps have those courtesies be extended to me.
Over the years, I have made it my point to share news about Black fraternal organizations, positive and negative. I’ve discussed hazing in particular an awful lot – it made its way into my novels and unfortunately has not subsided over the years. I’m hoping that one day, Lazarus can be looked at as a relic from the past and our children can read it – with horror – and wonder why generations of black men and women subjected ourselves to the brutality.
But perhaps more importantly, I have also posted about various allegations of wrong-doing on the part of the leadership of African American fraternities and sororities. Indeed, since the publication of Lazarus, there have been three scandals involving NPHC leaders that I’ve discussed. I care because I have strong convictions regarding the black fraternal commitment to the public and how we earn the public’s trust. I will not be shying away from discussing any public allegations which may befall even my own beloved APhiA.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not Mo’Kelly. I will not be doing any investigative journalism or original reporting. But I do believe I need to be fair as a diarist and pundit of fraternal matters. What’s good for the sorors is good for the frat, even my own.
I will be committed to a tone which is temperate. I will approach any matter discussed with dignity and in the interest of the public’s trust and faith in our organizations. We are here to serve them, not each other or ourselves. I understand the responsibility of my diary: to be authentic in my truth and honest in my opinions. These truths and opinions were not a deterrent for those interested in Alpha and not distasteful to those who support Alpha. It has been proven that the brotherhood needs strong dissension – which in and of itself is part of self-examination. And I do believe the public appreciates us more when we show we’re real people with diverse ideas and strong opinions about ethics and values.
On a final note, my third novel, Epiphany, has a story line which interweaves some of the issues I’ve mentioned above. There is a chapter advisor whom the boys are not sure has their best interests at heart. But you’ve got to read it yourself to see in which direction the story is taken. I think you’ll enjoy it, aside from the great main plot.
So thanks for your support over the years! Don’t forget that my books are all available through my website, oldgoldsoul.com (which you’re probably reading this entry on), Amazon, and pretty much any bookstore on special order. My novels are also available on Kindle readers and through Kindle apps – which means you can read my novels on your Kindle, any computer, and even your cell phone.
Have a great day…see y’all around!