I’m always astounded by what little White people know about us. Then again, I really shouldn’t be. We have to know about White folks and their ways for assimilation (sadly), advancement, for protection and survival. On the flip side, far too many White people have made a habit of learning about us with the intent to exploit our traditions and culture. With that in mind, one could argue that perhaps there are some things about us they shouldn’t know.
This discussion presented itself yesterday when a young, White reporter for the Washington Post, Chelsea Janes, was covering Senator Kamala Harris’ book event at George Washington University. Janes was live-tweeting the event and shared what can only be described as some ignorant observations about the crowd’s response to Harris, a Howard alum and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated (AKA).
“Kamala Harris listed Thurgood Marshall as one of those lawyers she admires, a fellow Howard alum. Someone shouted, “Me too!”
Someone corrected Janes letting her know that the person likely shouted, “HU” for Howard University.
But she didn’t stop there. In a since-deleted tweet she also shared this loaded observation:
“Members of her Howard sorority are in the room, and screeched when she mentioned her time there. Did not expect to hear screeches here.”
There are a couple of mistakes here. AKAs are a national sorority, with chapters located internationally as well. And those “screeches,” which is arguably a word with a negative connotation, is known as the “skee wee” sound. The fact that Janes notes that she did not expect to hear screeches here suggests that she found them undignified or inappropriate based on their location.
I get it, if you’re not Black, there’s a strong chance that you don’t know anything about Black Greek life. Hell, I know more than a few Black people who don’t know anything about Black Greek life. And that’s fine.
The problem here is Janes interpretation of what she witnessed and the ease with which she dismissed it as inappropriate. Even if she went into the room to cover Harris not knowing the ins and outs of AKAs, a quick Google search could have saved her this embarrassing but teachable moment.
She apologized for her faux pas.
But y’all know how it goes, apologies only go so far as people are more interested in the dragging. And Janes’ tone, which could be interpreted as a bit too cavalier, certainly got her fair share. See what people had to say on the following pages.