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If you’ve heard Lalah Hathaway’s voice, you’re likely a fan. Or can at least respect her craft. And while she comes highly rated, today she found herself sparking a bit of controversy with a picture of herself wearing an Alpha Phi Alpha cap.

While there were some, who celebrated the singer honoring her father, Donny Hathaway, there were others who took away a different message. People, some of them Alphas, left comments saying that while they loved Lalah and her music, they kindly asked her to delete the post out of respect to the organization. Another claimed that while they respected both she and her father, they don’t allow ANYBODY who didn’t cross to wear the paraphernalia.

It was my sister who brought this post to my attention, first thing this morning. And she was crunk. Full disclosure, our father is an Alpha too. My sister and I grew up admiring the camaraderie my dad shared with his fraternity brothers. We absolutely loved to watch them step, sing at weddings and reminisce about their college days. At one point I was sure I would learn their secret handshake. (I never did.) And I was determined that my dad was going to tell me about his pledging process. (He never did.) Either way, I was still fascinated. So much so that when I was still too young to know what fraternity meant, I told my father that when I went to college, I was going to become an Alpha too. It was on that very day that my dreams were dashed and I learned about sororities.

When I did get to college, the sororities at my school didn’t give off the same vibe I had observed growing up, so I decided it wasn’t for me. But I never lost the love and pride for my father firstly and for the organization that meant so much to he and his friends. So I completely get Lalah wanting to to honor her father in this way. When we were in high school, my sister took a pair of my dad’s shorts from his college days and wrote “Daughter of a” above those three Greek letters. We mostly wore the shorts around the house. But I took them with me to college, when I was miles and miles away from my father. And years later, I proudly wore those shorts to a party. With the exception of one member who tugged at my shorts, trying to see if I had violated any of the rules, it was cool.

I say all of that to say that our parents play an indescribably significant role in our lives, for better or worse. And we carry them with us, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and in the case of Lalah, my sister, and I physically too.

I know the Greeks have their rules. And I know they’re probably hoping that Lalah Hathaway doesn’t represent a slippery slope where any and everybody can wear the letters of a group they not only love but also worked very hard to be a part of. But as musician Kevin Whalum, another Alpha, so poignantly mentioned, it’s about humanity above colors.

He provided this example.

I’ve been an Alpha for 29 years, and I am nowhere close to offended. When you begin to elevate your thinking, you’ll see from where I’m coming. Btw, during my life, I’ve seen a homeless White woman wearing an old, tattered Alpha shirt. Let’s assume she found it in a landfill. By your logic, I should have approached her, and said something like, “All due respect to your homelessness, but…” Smh


What do you think about Lalah honoring her father in this way? Is it offensive to members of a Greek letter organization?

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