when you hear the battle cry it is easy to get caught up in the call for war and not take a step back and look at the bigger picture. i. am. guilty. i never begrudge anyone their right to pick and choose which battles they are going to fight. i know there is great wisdom in identifying when to stand up and when to remain silent. i am also aware that in every battle, there are multiple fronts that must be addressed in order for victory to be possible. i am trying to make sense of this in light of the recent decision of d9 organizations to call for members to abstain from wearing their “letters” when joining protests sprouting up around the country.
once those statements were made public, lots of debate ensued. both greeks and non-greek joined the conversation expressing disappointment, frustration, confusion, and praise in response to the formal positions handed down from nationals. i, being the extremely opinionated person that i am, added my voice to the conversation. i was disappointed. my initial, gut reaction was anger that in the face of injustice and the opportunity to participate in this generations’ “civil rights movement,” we were being asked to do so without proudly showing how our organizations arise to the occasion.
my anger stemmed from many places of conflict. as most of the d9 gracefully crosses the 100-year mark, we are constantly faced with questions of relevance. are we still needed in our communities? are we still effective in our communities? are we still leaders in our communities? are we still in touch with our communities?
it’s a hard pill to swallow for organizations that were at the fore-front of bringing the change, freedom, and opportunity that we now enjoy, and often times squander. i personally sought membership in delta sigma theta because of the legacy of activism that shaped the organization from its founding. to know that my founders marched in solidarity with thousands of other women on monday, march 3, 1913, risking not only expulsion from school, but in all honesty their lives, because they believed that women were both equal to and deserving of the same rights as men is a point of great pride. as black women, taking such a stand was revolutionary. it was a collective yaaassssss to sojourner truth’s words delivered in 1851, “ain’t i a woman.”
“If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?” sojourner truth
because we know our history and we know the place of those trailblazers who came before us – sorors dorothy height, shirley chislom, fannie lou hamer, daisy bates, marica fudge, mary mcleod bethune, frankie muse freeman, betty shabazz, barbara jordan, and mary church terrell – in the fight for justice and equality, it is hard to not want to make them proud. it is hard not to rush out and say yes, delta still stands for justice and equality and we will not stop working until it is realized in our communities.
if we’re honest, we know that fight hasn’t stopped. in fact, delta has been at the forefront of enacting policies and legislation to ensure that every gain won during the civil rights movement is not only defended, but extended to address issues of failed economic, education, health, and justice systems in our communities. we are not sitting idle while the rest of our community “takes up arms” in this fight for justice.
battles are fought on many fronts. we need the foot soldiers on the front lines, the generals in the strategy rooms, the diplomats in the policy rooms, the orators in the media, and the defenders in the halls of justice. we need to be on all fronts. and delta sigma theta can proudly say that we are doing our part on every single front to combat the threat to black lives – men, women, and children – in this country.
should we be allowed to wear our letters to show our solidarity at peaceful protests around the country, i honestly believe we should. if there is going to be a conversation about arrests, i’d rather it be us talking about how we were arrested standing for justice rather than how we were arrested for abusing people who wanted to join our organizations. but that’s a conversation for another time.
as some sorors have so eloquently reminded us, we have never needed t shirts before to stand for justice. it’s just what we do. i look forward to hearing a multi-front game plan from all d9 organizations in the near future. but for today, i encourage you, my sorors and fellow greeks, to “get up, put your war clothes on. take back everything god gave to you. get up put your war clothes on. the darkest hour’s just before the day.”