Keeping Up with the Jonzee

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Serious Affair



And as the AKA Centennial Celebration week winds its way to the end, I thought I would reflect on just how in the world this chick who said she would never do it, went ahead and did.

But, alas, I was born an AKA. Though I didn't fully realize it until later in life than I would have liked.

Although, I grew up in a church full of AKA women (80% of the church ladies), and my grandmother has been a card carrying dues paying member since the late 1930's, I never bought into it. Honestly, I didn't get it, and based on my run-ins with some of the church ladies, I thought they were mean as hell.

During my high school years, my anathema to joining a social organization waned. Me and my closest girl were all about wearing the Crimson and Cream. Shoot, everyone who knew me growing up said I acted like a Delta--whatever that is supposed to mean. I was even...well I can't tell you that, my Sorors might kill me.

But two things happened that steered my right on back to where I belong. One, was an incident with one of my best friend's mother. Upon hearing that I might have to move to Cleveland with one year of high school left, she and some of her sisters (who were also good friends of my family) wanted to see if they could help me stay in my home high school so that I could finish my last year with friends. After much begging on my part, my father asked her and her sorors, If I could live with them when school was in session. You should have seen how fast "no" came flying out of their mouths. But another young woman who I had only become friends with during high school (whose Mom was an AKA) offered easily without me asking--and even had drawn up a plan of the rules and responsibilities that would be involved. Even though in the end I still had to go. Just the gesture stayed with me for a long time.

The second, was right around my Senior year of high school. I wanted to do a documentary on the decline of Shaw Senior High, a once prominent public high school in East Cleveland. I didn't have any money for the project. And I was new to the area. I didn't really know anyone, other than the folks at church who work like grandparents and aunts and uncles to me. The ladys of AKA heard about my dilema from my father, and out of the woodwork came donations and connections. Someone lent me a great camera, another lady helped me find someone to edit it (for free), and other helped me connect with the administration at Shaw and the EC board of Ed. The ladies who went to Shaw signed up to be interviewed, shared year books, etc. Many of the AKA's in Cleveland are teachers and they gave their perspective on public school education and suggested ideas on how to fix the system. They helped me make my project an award winner.

Perhaps these things seem small to you, but these are only two of countless examples of ways in which I watched ladies in pink and green not only talk the talk and walk the walk of a "lifetime of service" not only to Alpha Kappa Alpha but to the world in which they live. There are countless other folks I know who have been helped, prodded, even chastised when they needed it by these ladies. They run soup kitchens, bible school, tutoring sessions, and mentor young women in some of the most abject poverty you could imagine, all while managing their own families.

If you know nothing else about me from this blog, you should know that I believe reaching back and up to empower minority folks, especially black folks to empower themselves. So many of the ladies of AKA embody that spirit and they do it in their own way, with their own voice, and they are unapologetic about it.

Don't get me wrong there are plenty of women who joined just so they could don the pink and green and do the strolling and party hopping. As well as plenty who take the AKA stereotype to the Nth level. But for every 1 of them there are at least two who are trying to figure out how to create programs to educate folks about Diabetes, managing money, or some other community service initiative.


Happy 100th b-day AKA!!!

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