By Moe Stephens, General Council Treasurer
I have watched the news the past couple of weeks with a heavy heart. I have heard stories from many of our members and alumni. I have had many restless nights. I have shed tears, thinking about the countless lives impacted by violence, bigotry, and racism. My heart hurts. I have worked to continue to educate myself. I have more work to do, and I recognize that I am not going to be perfect. Anti-racism work is messy and difficult. Those who know me well, know that I am happy to engage in spirited debate on a range of issues and ultimately agree to disagree if necessary. Racism is not, and will never be, one of those things.
I have no problem saying that Black Lives Matter. As a movement, BLM has been weaponized for political purposes. Some people have strong opinions on both sides. However, we must filter out the noise of politics. Saying Black Lives Matter is a humanity issue. Do All Lives Matter? You bet. However, the Black community continues to face violence, harassment, and racism on a daily basis. Is that your reality? If it is not, consider yourself to be in a position to make a difference and amplify the voices of those that do.
Phi Delta Theta Fraternity was founded on the high ideals of friendship, sound learning, and rectitude. Our Founders formed this society to create a place for the free exchange of ideas in a time when universities were less than hospitable to this type of self-awareness. The fact that Phi Delta Theta contributed to systems of oppression and racism, both in policy and practice, in later years is ironic in a way that I would prefer it not to be. For almost 50 years, like many organizations of the time, Phi Delta Theta did not allow students of color to join our Fraternity. Although this policy was abolished in 1954, we cannot continue to diminish this historical fact and its place in our history.
We have come a long way, but we still have work to do. Saying the phrase, “Becoming the greatest version of yourself” does not magically make it so. It takes work. It takes sound learning. It takes rectitude. It takes friendship. Our ritual tells us we have an obligation to our fellow man to live our lives in a way that makes our world a better place. History has shown, and the past two weeks have magnified, the fact that we have a long way to go.
So what do we do now? First, we must listen. We cannot understand what our members of color experience, the lives they have lived. We must not listen without action, and my promise to you is that we will act. I have work to do. We have work to do. We will do this work together.
Moving Forward – A Note from Phi Delta Theta
The death of George Floyd and the resulting protests throughout the world have caused much anger and frustration, and once again highlight issues of racism, inequality, and injustice for Black Americans in the United States. The events have also led to promising conversations about a better tomorrow, and we are greatly encouraged by them.
Phi Delta Theta wants to do everything it can to be part of the solution. We know that making meaningful change begins by listening, learning, and having open dialogue with each other. This is what we are doing, and we’ve been encouraged by the number of our members who have raised their hands to participate.
We are continuing this dialogue with our members who have said they want to be a part of the solution. We are very encouraged by these conversations, and we know it will help Phi Delta Theta take action where it will be most effective for our organization and its people.