Black Greeks Do: The Impact of BGLOs on Youth in America

Black Greek Letter Organizations, also known as the Divine Nine, were founded between 1906 through 1963 during the racial segregation, discrimination, and disenfranchisement of Jim Crow. Their purpose was to provide their members the platform to excel academically, improve the conditions of black students on college campuses and universities, and improve the social conditions of African Americans in their communities.  The Divine Nine is made up of Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Delta Sigma Theta, Phi Beta Sigma, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Iota Phi Theta.

In the age of social media, Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs) purpose and impact in the community has been subjected to hazing deaths, being less vocal of community issues, promoting social events, and participating in the tradition of stepping.  Many have questioned the relevancy of BGLOs as not being beneficial since African Americans have a myriad of opportunities to achieve academically and gain leadership and organizational skills without joining a Black Greek Letter Organization as an undergraduate or in an alumni chapter. Black Greek Life is in the eye of the beholder and as a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., we are still relevant and important to our communities, particularly for our youth.

Youth, predominantly in underprivileged communities of color, are suffering from acute traumatic stress disorder with fearing police, school-to-prison pipeline and not accessing higher education achievement due to the lack of mentorship and financial assistance. Although all the problems our youth face cannot be solved overnight, many BGLOs have strategies and programs that help youth achieve their American Dream.

Alpha Phi Alpha (

The “Go-to-High-School, Go-to-College” program, established in 1922, concentrates on the importance of completing secondary and collegiate education as a road to advancement.

Project Alpha is designed to provide education, motivation and skill-building on issues of responsibility, relationships, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases for young males ages 12-15 years.

Alpha Kappa Alpha (

ASCEND is designed to motivate, engage, and assist high school students in reaching their maximum potential in their journey to college or vocational employment.

Kappa Alpha Psi (

Guide Right is a program for the educational and occupational guidance of youth, primarily inspirational and informational in character. Its reach extends to high schools and colleges alike. In the latter, giving due attention to the needs of undergraduate Brothers.

The purposes of the Guide Right Service Program are to place the training, experience, and friendly interest of successful men, at the disposal of youth needing inspiration and counsel regarding their choice of a life’s career, while the community is made aware of the problems that may be encountered as these youth seek to realize lives of usefulness

Guide Right encompasses many of our youth oriented programs such as mentoring and adopting schools, college preparatory programs such as Diamonds in the Rough, and tutoring. However, the Flagship Initiative of the Guide Right Service Program is the Kappa Leadership Development League.

Omega Psi Phi (

Mentoring Brothers in Action is a movement led by Big Brothers Big Sisters and the nation’s three largest African American fraternities Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Phi Alpha, and Kappa Alpha Psi and to engage more African American men in fraternal, social, faith-based and professional organizations to get involved in one-to-one mentoring to change the odds for African American boys.

Talent Hunt Program provides exposure, encouragement and financial assistance to talented young people participating in the performing arts. Winners are awarded recognition and may be given college scholarships.

Delta Sigma Theta (

The Delta Academy was created out of an urgent sense that bold action was needed to save our young females (ages 11-14) from the perils of academic failure, low self-esteem, and crippled futures. Delta Academy provides an opportunity for local chapters to enrich and enhance the education that our young teens receive in public schools across the nation

Delta Gems was created to catch the dreams of African American at-risk, adolescent girls aged 14-18. The Delta GEMS program offers a road map for college and career planning conducts activities that provide opportunities for self-reflection and individual growth.


Phi Beta Sigma (

Sigma Beta Club develops wholesome value, leadership skills, and social and cultural awareness of youth at a most critical stage in the youth’s personal development. In addition to the national programs of Sigma Beta Club, it also focuses on Culture, Athletics, Social, Educational needs, and provides services to youths in their communities.


Zeta Phi Beta (

Archonettes are high school-aged young ladies who demonstrate an interest in the goals and the ideals of scholarship, sisterly love, and community service. Archonette groups are affiliated through local chapters.

Amicettes are girls 9 to 13 years of age who are willing to strive toward the high ideals of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and who demonstrate potential for leadership in service to the community. Amicettes are affiliated through local chapters.

Pearlettes are girls under 9 years old who are mentored by ladies of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. to become outstanding leaders in their community.

Sigma Gamma Rho (

The Sigma Youth Symposium was designed to highlight some of the prevalent concerns that negatively impact our youth: drugs, teen violence, abuse, low self-esteem, suicide, teen pregnancy, etc. Held on the second Saturday of March by each Alumnae Chapter, simultaneous Sigma Youth Symposiums address issues that affect teens today.

Iota Phi Theta (

The I.O.T.A. (“Intelligent, Outstanding Talented Achievers”) Youth Alliance allows individual chapters of Iota Phi Theta address the needs of Black Youth in their respective communities, addressing issues important/relevant to those communities.  Since its inception, I.Y.A. programs have included mentorship, manhood development, relationship building, college awareness, HBCU tours, athletics, academic supports (scholarships, academic and career advising/counseling, tutoring), and personal development.


The Power of the Parent: Ways Parents Can Impact Their Child’s Education

I was shopping at Wal-Mart yesterday. When I first entered, I noticed the school supplies list for each elementary school. Then, I noticed that the “Back to School” section for school supplies was in place and all the signage of back to school wear and snacks were intermittently placed throughout the store. This is every teacher’s nightmare. 30 days remaining of summer break.

As stores began to prepare for their back to school sales and deals, I couldn’t help but think that parents need to begin preparing for the upcoming school year as well. I want to share a few tips for parents on how to make sure that the beginning of the school year sets the best foundation for a successful school year.

Get to Know Your Scholar’s Teacher

Meeting with your child’s teacher is very important, especially at the beginning of the school year. Attending Open House at the beginning of the school year is a great time to meet. If you cannot attend Open House, feel free to inquire about the teacher’s conference period or meeting times. I understand that many parents may have jobs that aren’t flexible, but sending a note, an email, or scheduling a phone conversation are great alternatives to sharing your expectations, goals, and building a relationship.

Your first form of communication with your child’s teacher should not result from your child’s failing grades or behavioral issues. This partnership must begin at the beginning of the school year and not the middle or end of the year.

Lastly, be careful not to pass down your negative experiences of school and education to your child. Sometimes parents have no faith in school systems because they didn’t have a great experience as a child. This has potential to be very damaging with building relationship with teachers and school administrators and such a barrier can negatively impact your child’s education.

Invest in Your Scholar’s Education

Sometimes it is hard for teachers to consistently reach out to every parent, especially if one teaches 185 students. So, if you haven’t heard from the teacher about your scholar’s progress, don’t be afraid to ask. Be sure to ask your child for their report card and progress reports. No parent should not be aware of their child’s grades. Most districts have an online gradebook that parents can use to monitor their scholar’s grades in each class.

If you see that your child is struggling in class, knowing the teacher’s tutorial schedule is very beneficial. Parents, you have to make arrangements for your child to attend tutorials either before or after school.

In addition, seek what services your school offers. If your child is struggling in a particular subject, you have the right to ask the teacher to implement a Response to Intervention Plan. Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. If your child is still struggling in a subject after receiving targeted interventions and intensive interventions, you can ask the school to conduct a comprehensive evaluation for special education services.

Advocate for your child by learning your rights as a parent and keep the school informed of your concerns. You have to stay abreast with the changes in education. Review your school district’s discipline management plan, student code of conduct, and teachers’ syllabi.

Schedule a parent teacher conference when needed. Parents, in education, there is a process for everything. Sometimes, things can’t be implemented right away. Just know that the school will do everything it can to help your child be successful.

Encourage Learning at Home

I require all my students to obtain a library card from their local library. Why? Because it provides access to books, computer labs, Wi-Fi, and educational resources. This encourages your child to be an independent learner. This is also a safe environment for them to meet with their friends to study and do homework.

Also, have positive conversations with your child about school. When you do this, you show your child that you are invested in their education and it builds confidence in them. They need to hear from you why being focused in school is important and how beneficial it can be.

Parents, teachers need your support at home with keeping your child focused. For example, encourage reading at home and monitor your child’s cell phone, tv, video game, and internet usage. Technology is a blessing and a curse.

Establish homework routines and monitor your child’s completion of homework. Often times, we want to take our child’s word but it doesn’t hurt to check.

Parents, as you countdown the days to the start of school, keep these aforementioned tips in mind. I wish you and your child a great school year.

From the Brickyard to Baylor Alum: Tips for a First Generation College Student

You did it. You graduated from high school and you are a first generation college student who overcame many obstacles to make it to this milestone in your life. It is okay to be overwhelmed with emotions. You are probably excited about meeting new people, choosing a major, and attending the parties. Then, there is the anxiousness of navigating through college, the pressure to excel the first semester, and ultimately becoming a first generation college graduate.

I graduated from Ramsay High School in Birmingham, Alabama and moved to Waco, Texas to attend Baylor University. Luckily, I had a mother who encouraged me to leave the state. But, not everyone will receive this encouragement. Those factors could be, but not limited to, finances, trust, or maturity. Whether you decide to stay in-state or attend a university out-of-state, there are many things that a first generation college student may experience from figuring out how to manage school, personal life,  dealing with issues back home, learning cultural norms and expectations of college, to finding your niche on campus and making new friends.

Matriculating through undergrad can be very arduous. However, here are some tips that will help you as a college student.

Be Open-minded

I grew up in Loveman’s Village Projects, an economically disadvantaged community, in West Birmingham  and coming to Baylor University was a cultural shock for me. There were so many diverse students with different walks of life. I found myself trying to find people who looked like me but I soon found out that even those individuals had different backgrounds than me. Some were well off and weren’t first generation college students. It was hard trying to fit in and find where I belong. But, being open minded, not judging people, and not being shy to introduce myself to others allowed me to dis-affirm stereotypes and generalizations I had about people and vice versa.

Get Involved

The best way to feel as if you belong on campus and to help build your network is by being involved in a club or organization. There are many clubs or organizations to choose. For example, you may have an interest in your university’s student government, clubs in your major, Greek life, or cultural organizations. Getting involved allows you to be a leader on your campus but it also provides an opportunity for you to build support systems. Of course, it is difficult being active in every organization but choose two to three that you are interested in and try to become an officer in at least one or two.

If there isn’t a club that interest you, do not be afraid of starting your own organization. I helped charter the Diverse Verses Poetry and Spoken Word Group at Baylor University because there wasn’t an organization that provided a poetry and spoken word platform that allowed students to express in that art form.

Balance Your Life

You may have made it to college but graduating is even harder. There will be many obligations with school, social life, work, school organizations, and family needs. Prioritizing is one of the most important skills to have when you have so many competing needs. To study for tomorrow’s exam or party? That is the question. Studying in advance instead of procrastinating and then reward yourself with a party or outing is probably a better option. Time management, balance, and organization will take you very far in college. It is very important to develop routines. Routines may vary from semester to semester dependent upon your class schedule but you must adjust accordingly.

Utilize Your University’s Resources

Every university has a student success center that offers free career and academic support services. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Develop relationships with your academic adviser, professors, or other students who have knowledge about resources they have used. Your university may offer a writing center for help with essays and research. In addition, your school may offer mentoring, tutoring, and counseling sessions.

Have A Support System

Struggling in a class? Build relationships with peers in your class and meet up for study sessions. Yes, study sessions can turn into all-nighters but is very rewarding. Introduce yourself with your professors and build relationships. Do not be afraid of meeting with them during their office hours.

Lastly, there will be challenges in college that you will face that your family or friends may or may not understand if they haven’t matriculated through college before. Don’t count them out for support. They can support you financially but most importantly emotionally. Keep them involved with your collegiate endeavors. Emotional support could be simple as them sending a care package during midterms and final exams but most importantly attending your graduation.

How to Survive Prom

Parents, do you remember your prom and all the stress that came with it? Times have changed from the attire, hairstyles, and music. Nonetheless, you counted on your parents to make it a memorable night. Your child is counting on you to help them create an experience without any regrets.

This time of year can be very stressful for teens because they want to really impress their friends and parents can be stressed with trying to provide the best prom for their child. Here are some tips to make sure prom is successful.

1. Do You Have McDonald’s Prom Money?
Parents, prom can be very expensive. Despite having 18 years to prepare for the auspicious occasion for your teen, it is still necessary to have a budget. This is a great opportunity for your teen to determine their needs vs. their wants. This life skill of budgeting and prioritizing will teach your child how to save money while still having fun.

Tips on Saving Money:

– Your child could rent his tux or her dress. This event is just one night only and it is very unnecessary to spend hundreds on a tux or even a thousand dollars on a dress. Let them have something to look forward to when they marry. Also, shopping for clearance and sale items will save money.

– Instead of renting a car, you could be your child’s personal driver. It may seem lame to teens. But, you will have a peace of mind that your child will be safe to and from prom. Also, using an Uber driver could be an alternative if you do not have transportation for your child or the means to rent a car.

– Instead of spending hundreds on a fancy restaurant, you could create a romantic dinner for your child and their date at your home.

2. Communicate and Ask Questions
Parents, it is very important to talk with your teen about appropriate behavior on a regular basis, not just on prom night. Yes, this conversation may include another birds and the bees story, a talk about drugs, texting and driving, and alcohol. There is so much peer pressure during this time and you want to make sure that you have discussed the dangers and consequences of giving in to it. Instill in your child that he or she doesn’t have to do what other teens are doing to be seen as ‘cool’ to fit in. Guide them on appropriate decision making, how to respectfully refuse, or discuss solutions to hypothetical and risky situations.

Also, ask questions. Your teen may think you are a private eye but the more you know, the better you can protect your child.

Here are a few questions to ask:

– Where is prom going to be this year and what time does it end?
– Who will be your date or are you going with a group of friends?
– Who will be the designated driver or the chaperone?
– Where will the after party be or will there be a school lock in?

3. Supervision and Check-ins
Parents, you know your teen best. If they have consistently broken curfew in the past or have been involved in risky behavior, then you might want to be a chaperone. During prom season, even the goody two shoes may slip up and give in to peer pressure.

Here are a few ways to supervise:

-Before prom, host a get together with the prom date, the group of friends and their parents. This gives you an opportunity to get a vibe of the teens and their parents. You may find out about the differences in parenting styles and you can see how the teens interact with each other and get a feel of what type of kids your teen is attending prom with. If something strikes you as odd or you feel uncomfortable about some things, talk with your child about it. Remember, communication is key.

– During the prom, you may volunteer at the school as a prom chaperone. This way you can volunteer for the school but also inconspicuously supervise your child.

– Host an after party event for your child and their friends. This way you will be sure that your teen will be safe after the prom.

If you have built more trust with your child, then a simple check in via a cell phone call or text message may suffice. You may have them check in when they arrive to dinner, arrive at the prom, leave prom and arrive at the after party, and the final check in could be when they are on their way home. Remind them of the curfew and remind your child that their safety is your greatest concern.

4. Do You Not Understand or Do You Not Comprehend?
Parents, let your child know that if they fail to adhere to any of your guidelines and expectations,  there will be consequences. They do not have to know what they are but you may consider not allowing them to participate in graduation festivities. Allow them to ask questions and clarify your guidelines and expectations. It is best to have your consequences planned in advance and not after something happens because your consequences could be irrational and be decided from an emotional state of mind.

5. Relax and Allow Them To Have Fun
Parents, you must stay calm during prom season. Your child is stressed with creating the perfect promposal, finding the perfect dress or tux, and looking their best for Instagram and Snapchat. Just remind them that you are there for them in any time of need. Share with them your prom night and your memories, the appropriate things of course. Take plenty of pictures and relax.

It’s Just Hair: School Policies Should Be More Culturally Accepting!

As I sit and reminisce about my sister sitting uncomfortably between my mother’s legs, I remember my mama holding a worn hot comb as she concentrated on not burning my sister. I would recall my sister always saying, “Mama, you burned my ear.” (Chuckles)

Furthermore, when the barber shows us our fresh haircut in the mirror after waiting hours to get in the chair, we all have smiled from cheek to cheek because of the confidence we have now found through the fresh cut.

As I continue this post, I realize that this topic is no laughing matter.

Principal Erica Walker of Redemptorist Elementary in Baton Rouge, Louisiana has upset parents because of a text message that was sent out regarding the uniform policy. The text read: “I understand that the boys want to follow the latest fashion trend, however the ‘Nappy, Uncombed, Picked/Sponged’ look Must Go! It is getting out of hand. If their haircut is higher than 1inch it must be cut.”

It has been reported that parents found this message to be offensive and inappropriate. Others have supported the principal by stating that kids must obey the rules and that if parents and students do not like the school’s policy, they should leave.

The school’s policy, printed in a handbook reads: “Boys’ hair must be clean and well groomed with a traditional, conservative cut. Hair length in back is above the shirt collar with the front hair length clearly above the eye brows. Sculptured designs or lines, shaved heads, braids, tails in the hair, Mohawks, afros and tinted hair are not allowed. Side burns are not to be shaved above the natural hair line.

I understand both sides; however, I want to approach this topic from a historical perspective and dissect the text and policy.

Since the inception of slavery in this country, African hair has always been an issue. Throughout time, Black hair has been compared to the wool of the sheep, dehumanizing Blacks because of this distinctive feature. Even some have claimed Jesus’ existence to be Black simply from the scripture in the book of Revelation 1:14 “The hair on his head was white like wool…”

We have a slave mentality that has prolonged itself within our communities that straight hair (and lighter skin) is the pinnacle. Throughout history, Blacks with natural roots, have been mistreated because of the texture of their hair. It has been referenced as wool, curls, coils, kinky, and the term at hand “nappy”. Even today, years after slavery, Black hair is not the standard. It does not represent professionalism and because of one’s roots, it limits advancement and one’s opportunities for career advancement and social acceptance.

I’ve heard my scholars of color fantasize of having mixed babies because they want a child with “good hair”. I tell them that their hair is beautiful and that no matter what, their future scholars will be beautiful, too. Daily, I have to remind them that they are beautiful.

This is sad.

Let’s dissect the message.

  1. “I understand that the boys want to follow the latest fashion trend…”

African Americans’ hair is always being referenced as a “trend”. Even white models have been recently styled in corn-rolls and it is deemed as chic; however, Blacks gets scrutinized on a daily basis for their hairstyle. The principal is unaware that this is not a trend but an emergence of black pride, black beauty, and black expression. No longer are Blacks trying to assimilate into a traditional and conservative America. This movement of self-love and cultural pride is more than a fad. Black young men are proud of their hair and to be told that their hair isn’t acceptable will only lead them to questioning their identity and image.

  1. “’Nappy, Uncombed, Picked/Sponged’ look Must Go!”

The word “nappy” has always had a negative connotation. The imagery in this sentence depicts the hairstyle as unkempt; however, I am sure that parents at this private school would not send their child looking any kind of way. This look can be professionally trimmed and cut. The use of the exclamation point exhibits a declarative statement. The principal is trying to exhibit her power. The tone seems angry and frustrated and the overuse of the commas and slash shows that no form of the natural look is acceptable. This entire sentence ostracized the young black scholars with particular hair.

  1. “It is getting out of hand. If their haircut is higher than 1inch it must be cut.” One can infer that the school policy has not been enforced consistently.

Furthermore, the school’s policy enforces a conservative code.

  1. “Boys’ hair must be clean and well-groomed with a traditional, conservative cut.” What is deemed traditional? What is considered the conservative cut? This is implying that nappy or natural hair cannot be clean nor well-groomed.
  2. “Sculptured designs or lines, shaved heads, braids, tails in the hair, Mohawks, afros and tinted hair are not allowed…”- Once again, these are styles that are particularly worn within the African American community. In my opinion, only certain persons are being targeted. If their hair is unacceptable at school and in their future workplace as adults, at what point does a person of color express or embrace their natural hair?

What if their counterpart were all required to wear dreds? Everyone’s hair doesn’t grow the same.

I believe that this policy should be reviewed to be more culturally accepting.

Lastly, there is so much more to worry about than a scholar’s hair. The school is supposed to be a safe, learning environment. As long as the students are learning and achieving and they are exemplifying great qualities of citizenship, one inch of hair as opposed to 2 or more will not hurt anyone. The only thing that is hurting at this point are these young boys and their pride.  It’s just hair….

Realizing the Dream

Coincidentally after celebrating the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, I began my drama unit this month with the American classic A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. To spark my students’ interest and to help them learn important themes that would be represented in the play, we read the poem “Harlem” written by Langston Hughes. The play was inspired from the lines in Hughes’ poem

“What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?” – Langston Hughes

I posed the question to my students and many lost eyes stared back at me. My first guess was that my scholars didn’t know what the word deferred meant. After defining the word, my room was still silent. At first, I was confounded but then I realized that many of my students couldn’t defer a dream if they never had one.

Today’s youth are growing up in a reality tv, Instagram, and Snapchat era where most aspire to emulate the lives of their followers. In the midst of all this social media, they have set aside their own ambitions, wants, and desires to trade theirs for false realities, in most cases.

In addition, students may lack dreams for many reasons:

  1. They’ve never taken the time to think about their future because they’re trying to just get by day to day.
  2. They don’t believe the “American Dream” is relative to them.
  3. They doubt their dreams are attainable because they can’t see beyond their environment and circumstances.
  4. They have inherited a misconception that dreams come true instantaneously.

Regardless of the reasons why students may lack dreams, what do we do for the child who has dreams? Here are 5 ways to help a child realize their dream.

1. Embrace their Dream

Students have many aspirations, goals, and desires. When they have decided to be vulnerable and share them with you,  remember to set your expectations of them to the side.  It’s not about what you think he or she is capable of doing. Just embrace it. Do not deny your student the right to dream. Help them consider all the possibilities and disregard the probability of them accomplishing their dream. Most importantly, make them feel that their accomplishing their goal is an absolute must in making this world a better place.

2. Expose them to the Possibilities

Often times students have absolutely no clue with what they want to do with their lives. At 15 years old, some of you probably had no clue either. Nonetheless, it is important for us to expose students to various careers. Take an inventory of your students’ interest. I usually provide a questionnaire at the beginning of the year so that I have an idea of my students’ interest. I try to keep them engaged in class by incorporating their interests in my lessons. Whether students are analyzing lyrics and mood of their favorite songs or using their talent to draw their interpretation of settings and characters in novels, teachers must incorporate their students’ interests in the classroom.

How do I expose students to possible careers?

  • Invite guests to speak in your classes.
  • Design a lesson where students have to research different careers in their interests.
  • Host a career day at your campus.
  •  Connect a student and their parent to a person in the student’s particular field of interest.

3. Provide the Blueprint for Success

We use a GPS because we have an address but may not know how to get to our destination. What happens when a student doesn’t have any idea where they are going or even how to get there?

  • Put it on paper: Encourage your student to write their dream on paper. This provides your student the opportunity to process into words what he or she wants to achieve. This makes their dream a tangible thing on paper.
  • Use the internet: Encourage your student to use the internet to research colleges that are ranked for certain degrees, what classes one takes to graduate with a particular degree,  average salaries in cities for their desired career,  research current industries that are growing, and research the necessary skills and experience needed for a particular career.
  • Plan: Help them determine their plan of action and approach to accomplishing their dream.
  • Create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) Goals and a Timeline: Help your student make realistic goals that can be measured and assist them with a timeline. By this age you should….. It will take this many years for you to….., etc.

4. Support the Process

The last thing a child needs is criticism with no solutions and pessimism with no encouragement. Support the child in their ups and downs. Provide honest feedback and advice when necessary. Stay away from the phrases: “I told you so”, “You should have done…”. When a student gets lost along the way, steer them back in the right direction. Remember, this dream is not about you. Build self confidence within them. This allows them to know that they are more than capable to make their own decisions regarding their dreams and aspirations.

5. Lead by Example

Parents and teachers, you may be your students only example of an individual accomplishing his or her dream. They are watching you. Share with them your goals you have or had in life. Be as transparent as possible and allow them to learn from your mistakes and successes in the most authentic way possible.

No longer will our children have deferred dreams.