Ace's View

Dedicated to minority issues, topics and everything in between

Archive for January 2014

Honorary

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So, you know what grinds my gears?

No?  Allow me to share a story with you, so that this might make a little bit of sense.

Back in my undergrad days, I recall a discussion with my chapter fraternity brothers that centered around whether or not we should have more honorary members than the one we currently had (and have; it hasn’t changed as of this writing)–when it was called to my attention that there was a fraternity who actually had made a deceased man, who happened to be one of the most recognizable names in the abolition of American slavery–a honorary member.

I will maintain some shred of civility and not put them all the way on blast, but when I heard that, I was annoyed, offended, and annoyed again.

Prior to that conversation, I was aware of the honorary member status that most Greek letter organizations bestowed upon people.

After the conversation, and doing some research on my own*, I was appalled by the overuse of honorary statuses, as it didn’t seem to make much of a difference whether or not the organization dealing out these honorary titles really thought the recipients would uphold and uplift their organizations from that point on.

Honorary.

No, it just seemed like another name to put on the webpage to draw people to want to join that organization.  Another chance for a photo opportunity, another potential donor with deep pockets that could save the fraternity/sorority should they face yet another hazing lawsuit.

And it still, to this day, annoys me.  

But I also find it humorous how often it’s accepted.

So today, when frat mentioned that legendary singer/civil rights activist Harry Belafonte was introduced as a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., at a recent event in Chicago, my first reaction was to laugh.**

Now, I had seen a posting from a friend who is a Sigma, implying that he seemed really happy to be up on that stage, as he took a long-ass time to wrap his speech up (& hell, if you’ve ever heard him speak, you know Belafonte is not a short-winded brother)–but mainly I found it funny because here is yet another person who gets honorary status from an organization that has been around for exactly 100 years this year.

Why now?  On the 100th anniversary?  Why not last year?  10 years ago?  

Back in the ’60’s, ’70’s, when BGLO’s could have used another visible representative in the civil rights movement?

(I’m aware there were many, but still.  More wouldn’t have hurt anything.) 

It all just seems suspect and like a big money grab to me.

Which is why what I’m about to say next may seem extremely small and contradictory, but here we go:

Iota Phi Theta isn’t smart enough or willing to take advantage of this, because…why?

I’m thinking out loud here, and hopefully how conflicted I am comes across clearly.  One side of me sees the honorary status bestowed by most organizations as a cheap attempt to shore up members and money.  And I don’t think I’m wrong about that.  I also think that handing them out every year to so many people cheapens the status and makes it seem like, hey, as long as you are famous and/or rich, you, too, can be approached to represent our organization.

On the other hand…if this is the way that all of these other groups are finding their way into mainstream recognition, why couldn’t that work for us?  Couldn’t it increase visibility to a point where people recognize the name more because there is a celebrity/public figure/leader behind it?

Maybe that’s the point, and the reason it’s not done by us.  We have always been a group that goes against the grain, far more often than not.

But sometimes, I can’t help but to think that the very things that we revel in and that make us different can also be the things that hinder us from growing.

I will use this very blog as an example.

In the latter part of 2013, I started to feature different men of Iota Phi Theta here and Iota Sweethearts who were either selected by me personally or nominated by other people.

And I will say this: those who I knew would respond and give their best efforts to make their profiles worth reading did so.  

But for every one of those, there were a handful of others who half-assed the assignment, or told me they would get around to it and never got back to me.  Some didn’t respond at all.

Also, for those that were featured, sharing your profile and those of others was encouraged and highly recommended.  With two exceptions, that didn’t happen.

Although I am rarely and not easily discouraged, I’ll be the first to admit that did it for me.

I started the hiatus and decided that I would only do features at my whim and not on the two-a-day schedule that I previously planned.  Because if I can’t get my own brothers and sisters excited about their own brothers and sisters, how can we expect anyone else to be excited for us?

As of today, I’m still in that mindset.  

In order for us to succeed, we have to want it, and not just stand back and wait for it to come to us.

With me having a couple of committees lined up that I will be a part of in 2014, I hope to be a big part of that success and the change that will cause us to reach it.

Until then, though, I will call it out at every turn and every chance I get.

I gladly welcome your thoughts on this in the comments section, whether you agree or not.

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I fully expected that I would be writing in here sometime in early 2014, after taking a brief hiatus from this blog.

I also anticipated having a whole lot of things to write about that I didn’t dare touch in the last few months of 2013, for a bunch of different reasons.  Most of which had to do with either not being informed on certain subjects, while just wanting to steer away from others because they ventured into uncomfortable territory.

When I first started writing editorials back in high school, I did the opposite.  I sought out the most inflammatory, incendiary things I could write about, chose a side, and sat in front of a keyboard and banged it out.

This year shall be dedicated to doing just that, again.

Hope you guys stick around for it.  Should be fun.

*(Don’t believe me?  Type “honorary members of” into Google with autocomplete on, and watch what comes up.  Take it a step further and go to each org’s website and note the list of honorary members.  Not notable–there’s a difference.)

**(Editor’s note: I haven’t found anything that explicitly says that he is now a member, only that he delivered the keynote address.  Still, I’m sure that may not be common knowledge just yet, so I’ll take the word of people who were there.  I also wouldn’t be laughing because of the quality of the organization, as PBS gets a lot of credit from me for doing a lot of good in the community.  I’ll be forthcoming and say there’s only one organization that I’d kind of be like 0_o if someone accepted honorary status in it.  Those who know me will definitely get it.) 

Written by aceviewblogger

January 12, 2014 at 6:21 pm