Over the past few days, many of us have followed the developing story of the Michael Brown case. Unrest in Ferguson , Missouri has ensued. Both protesters and police have taken to the streets. Moments of peaceful demonstrations during the day turn into tension filled protest at night. Evenings have been tainted with tear gas, looting, showers of rubber bullets and much more. All of this stems from Mike Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, being gunned down by a Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson. For the full and developing story, click here.
Now, riots and protests are deep rooted American traditions. It is in our DNA. “Give me liberty, or give me death” is not just a historical quote we reference in textbooks. It is the heartbeat of American activism. This is especially true for minority groups within the United States, even more so for African Americans. Civil rights activism runs through our blood. We, as a people, have collectively fought long and hard for our freedom, respect, and ultimately, the chance to seen and treated equally by our non-black counterparts. From slavery days to today’s headlines, unfortunately, we continue to fight for the same thing.
Many successful strides have been made in the name of civil rights and equality, thanks to many of our great civil rights leaders. It also doesn’t hurt that many of these individuals happen to be members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council. We’ve seen everyone from W.E.B. Dubois to Martin Luther King, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Reverend Al Sharpton, Rosa Parks, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Actor Harry Belafonte, Activist Huey P.Newton, Actress Ruby Dee and many more utilize their platforms to fight for justice. Even in the event of the Ferguson riots, we spotted leaders such as Congressman John Lewis, comedian and activist Dick Gregory , showing up and showing support for the Ferguson community. And we can’t forget about Captain Ron Johnson, Kappa man, and recent key representative of Ferguson law enforcement.
We’ve also observed numerous lesser known NPHC members taking a stance against injustice as well. Over the past several days, we’ve seen various NPHC members from around the country taking #DONTSHOOT pictures as a sign of solidarity the Brown family. We’ve witness chapters organize rallies, protest, and town hall meetings to help the community voice their grievances against police brutality. They’ve helped clean up the streets of Ferguson, board up businesses that have been broken into and served as a helping hand to reporters, outsiders and law enforcement alike. Resident Greeks like news reporter and AKA Soror Brittany Noble as well as Twitter activist and DST Soror Lashelle Ikerenkoetter have been keeping the public abreast of the latest developments in Ferguson. We appreciate and salute all of our NPHC family for stepping up to the plate.
Our organizations were founded as a way to provide and promote social and civil justice for people of color. It is important that we continue to remain active in our communities. We have an awesome platform that’s available to us. We must use it to advance the greater good. We should ALWAYS be asking:
“How can I put my letters into action? What am I actively doing to improve my community?”
Our mere presence is great. But acting on our purpose is greater. If you would like to help stomp out injustice, whether it is the Michael Brown case or future civil rights issues, here are few ways to get involved:
Every moment you have is an opportunity to teach and an opportunity to learn. Engage in open dialogue. Leave judgment at the door. Welcome EVERYONE to the conversation.
Rather than criticize someone for not knowing something, educate them. No, I don’t mean sass them. No, I don’t mean ask them “HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW ABOUT…?” Aint nobody got time for that. If they knew, they wouldn’t be in this predicament. Take the time to share your experience. Share other people’s experience. At the same time, hear them out. Ask them about their story and if they can relate. Don’t forget to offer literature, first and secondary references. Make sure it’s accurate. Seek out experts in that profession/industry/cause. Put your thinking cap on. Plug in your listening ears. Learning goes both ways. Be the teacher and the student. Ask questions. Answer questions. Most of all, be respectful of each other.
If you want to efficiently contribute to a cause/community, it’s best to have a plan. Whether the task is great or small, a plan will help you measure if your efforts actually helped. Decide exactly what you want to do and how you want to do it. Find out who has the resources you need. Have a template for donations ready in case you intend to give to a certain cause. Have a directory of current and potential affiliates ready to go . Have a chain of command and protocol set in case anyone has questions. Set up your supplies the day before your event. Take inventory of your materials that you’re using/giving out. If a sponsor helped provide those materials, it’s nice to let them know how their contribution mattered to your cause. Have thank you templates ready. Also, have your social media contact cards ready. Let people know your involvement is not for a moment, but our organizations are intended to push and facilitate movements.
If you’re looking for more specific ways to get involved, you can try the following:
– Participate in or start a townhall meeting or a panel discussion. Involve other greek and non greek organization to speak on the issue.
– Partner with your grad chapter, local NAACP, National Urban League or other non profit organization and see how you can help with their initiatives.
– Take a united #DONTSHOOT picture with all of your NPHC Members. Vine their experiences/ responses to the Michael Brown case.
HERE ARE OTHER GREAT SOURCES THAT CAN HELP YOU GET INVOLVED.