Amid nationwide protests against police brutality and the failed indictments of Officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, the oldest black sororities Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta are instructing their members not to wear their Greek letters while marching. The directive is pissing off some members and disappointing others.
On Sunday, Jezebel received an internal Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority email (shown below) sent to a member instructing their chapter in a number of actions but most importantly not to wear the organization's logo while protesting in the names of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley and numerous other Americans killed by police officers. AKA members across the country are allowed to wear the sorority's colors but that's about it.
Elsewhere on Delta Sigma Theta's website, the organization's national office displays their own similar rules.
Some AKA and DST members, who spoke to Jezebel anonymously, feel that these instructions are normal for a business (which these sororities are) looking to protect itself. For example, if a soror starts looting, Delta Sigma Theta does not want to be held legally responsible for the actions of that one riotous member. Another sorority member noted that all communications should come from the organization's headquarters to streamline all statements, eliminating any confusion about the group's position.
On the other hand, some sorority members have begun marching in full letters despite these directions from their national office. One stated that banning letters while marching feels "wrong" and these precautions read as cowardly actions, especially in a time where there are scores of members who are well connected and ready to join the national conversation and protests around the deadly handling of minorities in America by police.
Full disclosure: I am not a member of any sorority except the honorable organization of 'Be Black and Fear For Your Life' but I was raised by a Delta, am married to an Alpha Phi Alpha and grew up playing at an Omega Psi Phi Boys and Girls Club, so I understand some of black Greek organizational politics. Still, it seems tone deaf to discourage members from wearing their organization's letters, especially when these groups were founded on community service (Martin Luther King, Jr. was an Alpha, Coretta Scott King was an honorary AKA). Not to mention those who are late to the conversation are eventually omitted and I doubt either the AKA's or the Deltas want that.
Calls for comment to the AKA and DST corporate office were unanswered at press time.
Images via DST and AKA websites and an email obtained by Jezebel.