I was attending a conference with my husband and family celebrating the 100th anniversary of his fraternity in Washington, D.C. The members of this fraternity include the barons of African American society including celebrities, scholars, generals, professional athletes as well as 150,000 African American males, most of whom are college educated. For 6 days their fraternal colors decorated the streets of our nation’s capitol and it was a continuous, non-stop party. One day prior to the end of the celebration, over 4,000 men, young and old emerged at Howard University, the birthplace of the fraternity to commemorate and celebrate the founding members of the fraternity. We witnessed history in the making and the fraternity even received an audience with a representative from the White House.
I’m a mother of 2 beautiful sons who are presently in elementary school. Like most mothers, I have high expectations and dreams for them. My greatest fear is that they will end up dead because of an act of violence based on ignorance. So imagine how I felt when discovered there were 2 young men who were about to fight in the lobby. Although my husband attempted to reduce the tension as he walked into our room, without thinking I instinctively pleaded with them to stop to my husband’s dismay. I’m a Native New Yorker and am well versed in the unwritten rule that says to mind one’s own affairs. But I couldn’t ascribe to that code because I was looking at these young men through the eyes of a mother. How long each of their mothers been in labor? How many jobs did their parents work to send them to school? Had they been on scholarships? I got on my soap box and preached about the glorious history of their fraternity but it was only when I threatened to cry that they both became remorseful and apologized. Their dispute was ultimately settled non-violently and it seems that these men knew each other. I’m not certain what precipitated the dispute or whether alcohol was a contributing factor. I only know that a commemorative celebration could have easily transformed into a tragedy. What can we do as a society to change this?