As my beloved fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., celebrates 108 years of scholarship, manly deeds, and love for all mankind, I am reminded that as much progress as black Americans have made in the United States of America, it pales in comparison to the incalculable work that still needs to be done.
When white police officers continue to slaughter and murder black males at an alarmingly disturbing rate with no indictment and no recourse, we still have work to do. With the deplorably unacceptable condition of institutions of learning in predominantly black neighborhoods, we still have work to do. When black children idolize recording artists who encourage misogyny, murder, and selling drugs as a means of viable income, we still have work to do. When black men feel like a target regardless of social status, we still have work to do.
When black women lack respect for themselves and falsely believe that their bodies are their most valuable asset, we still have work to do. When black children aspire to be rappers and ballplayers rather than scholars and professionals, we still have work to do. When black men no longer feel any obligation to take care of a child that he helped create, we still have work to do. When black people anticipate the release of the newest pair of Jordan’s sneakers more than the reading list on Oprah’s book club, we still have work to do.
When black people are more interested in the lives of celebrities than the politicians who create policies that govern their lives, we still have work to do. When black people will line up for hours to take advantage of a Black Friday sale as opposed to standing in line to vote, we still have work to do.
108 years is certainly worth celebrating but what exactly are we celebrating if the condition of the black community continues to decline? What exactly are we celebrating? If our brother, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, what grade would he give our efforts to pursue his dream as a brotherhood? A failing one I presume.
The time is now to step up and take charge of our own destiny; not only take charge but lead it. Our founders, with their infinite wisdom and adroitness, started this organization not only to be first of all but to be servants of all in hopes that we will inevitably transcend all. We can no longer sit idly by and watch the continuous decline of Black America from the convenient comfort of our corner offices or comfortable lazy boy. We can no longer wait and hope and pray for change, we must demand it and take a significant part in creating it.
This fight is not only Alpha’s to fight. We must collaborate with every organization who is ready for change and refuse to accept the 2nd Class citizenship that has been afforded black people in this country since slavery.
We can no longer dream as Brother King did, the time to act is now.
Brother Joe Paul
Fall 1998 Initiate – The Iota Delta Chapter, Florida State University
2000 National Brother of the Year
2001-02 Assistant Regional Vice-President, Southern Region