Ja'han Jones' graceful, necessary response to Tau Kappa Epsilon
The student president of the African American Men of Arizona State University wrote to the brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon, not 'to reprimand, or defame, or scold, but to ask with the utmost sincerity: Why?'
Ja’han Jones, the student president of the African American Men of Arizona State University, has issued a calm, caring, and measured response to the brothers of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, following the group’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day “Black Party.”Skip to next paragraph
Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.
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Mr. Jones’ mature and well-crafted message underlines the need for parents to reinforce with their children that MLK Day is never a holiday from good grace, but rather an invitation for grace throughout the year.
The Brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon apparently decided to demonstrate their mission statement “to aid men in their mental, moral, and social development for life” by throwing an MLK Day “Black Party” and dressing up as demeaning racial stereotypes.
I live in the south, where race is an issue gliding just below the surface, much like a shark waiting to break a flat, calm sea. Being born in New York City and being raised in New Jersey, it still shocks me when I hear someone here that is white grumbling, “Why do we still need MLK Day when there’s a black president?”
This incident, and many more like it, is why we need to talk with our kids about racial equality more days than just one, and emphasize that mocking people, especially an entire race, is never, ever, acceptable.
I admire that, while many people would have reached for their poison pen in response, Mr. Jones took the high road.
In his online letter, "To the Brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon," Jones wrote the kind of response one might expect of a seasoned parent. He wrote:
“I am concerned, however, that your legacy is enduring an almost-irreparable damage, and further, that you’ve demonstrated a willingness to endure this damage for meager laughs and degradation at the expense of the African American community,” Jones wrote. “I am concerned that your organization’s self-professed mission to “aid men in their mental, moral, and social development for life” eludes you with such heinous acts as your most recent ‘MLK Black Party’.
As the mother of four sons, I would be so proud if one of my boys were to write such a clear-minded rebuke. Personally, it took me a good hour before I could lower my temper and raise my writing game to Jones’ level.