How do I talk about the incredible men of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated? Im not exactly sure how to capture in words the esteem in which I hold them. Oh how i wish this note had a soundtrack, it would definitely have “Pretty Boy Swag” on it…. and “Set it Off!”
My first orientation to the men of Kappa Alpha Psi was in college. My college roommate’s long time boyfriend was a Kappa at The University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. On more than one occasion a bunch of us would pile up in the car and make the three hour drive to Tennessee for a Kappa party. There was definitely something special about these guys, they had swagger. I remember how they would enter a party: cool, smooth and crisp, party walking onto the dance floor while set it off played in the background…. They were tall, and handsome, and distinguished, and…
At the time I was not a Delta. I’d wanted to be a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. since I was a little girl. My mother and grandmother were members of the Sorority and so I expected that I would become a member in college.
That didn’t happen. I tried at Spelman College and I didn’t make the cut; that was traumatic. I felt like I’d failed the women who’d come before me. I decided to dismiss Black Greek sorority and fraternity life after that; this all made my mom very sad.
Soon I graduated and moved to New York City and within a year I became a Link. I thought this would make my mother happy; my grandmother was a Link, my mom is a Link and I was now a Link.
But my grandmother was a Delta, My mom is a Delta and I… was still not a Delta.
“I don’t think you’re trying to connect with a local chapter,” Mom would say; she had encouraged me to reach out to the graduate chapters in each of the cities that I’d lived in after college. “You don’t want to be a Delta anymore, do you?” she said.
That wasn’t quite the case, it’s just that there was a scar there; I knew that if I were to pursue membership in Delta again, it would have to feel right. It would have to be the right place and the right time and the right chapter…. it would have to click.
I was getting ready to graduate from Princeton Seminary in 2008 when I met a nice undergraduate Delta Soror from Princeton University. I asked her who her graduate advisor was and she introduced me to a woman named Sandi B. Sandi B. was from the Trenton Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and she sold me two tickets to a fundraising event. She also told me that she would keep my information and reach out to me if they were taking in new members in the future.
Sandi B. and I only met once, but she didn’t forget me. A year later she reached out, it was time; it clicked.
I became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated on April 24, 2009. I was made by the Trenton Alumnae Chapter with 23 other amazing women.Our line was called 24 Karat Gold. I was number 22 and my nickname was Sunshine. Our process was special and our bond is special. I was meant for this line at this place in time.
The summer after we crossed over into the Sorority was the most fun. My social calendar in Trenton went from zero to hero and my line sisters and I must have supported every greek (and non greek) event in the city; there was always something…. and we showed up, party walking. We were happy to be new Deltas. I think we would have party walked in the grocery store if there had been enough of us. And we got a lot of love from the other Greeks in the city; it all felt like one big welcome hug. We especially got a lot of love from the Kappas..
The Kappas in Trenton are an incredible group of guys and my associations with them have made Greek life whole for me. They are actively engaged in community service in the city and they sponsor great events. But more important than that, they demonstrate authentic brotherhood. They really appear to look out for each other, like real brothers do; it is refreshing to observe.
I found myself at Kappa events almost immediately after I crossed. And I was at one event in particular, the Kappa cookout, when I met Kesner. It was July 2009 and I had been seeing this guy since May, at different events here-and-there. The cookout would be the first time that we would have a conversation.
I arrived at the cookout over dressed. I am not sure why I was so dressed up but iI had on a black and orange floral print halter dress and 3 inch platform heels. I needed to sit down, I was doing too much.
I hadn’t been sitting very long before one of the brothers came over and told me that Kesner wanted to meet me. I met him at a picnic table. We sat at the table and had a brief conversation that ended with us making plans to go to his church the following Sunday. I wasn’t interested at the time (I had a budding romance brewing with the guy in my building), but Kesner had invited me to church; can a minister really turn down church? I agreed to meet him the following Sunday in the vestibule.
What I didn’t know then was that our conversation was a result of an earlier chat that he had been having with his mentor and fraternity brother, Drew. (Who will here on be referred to as Drew/Angel). In prior conversation, Kesner had expressed to Drew/Angel that he was looking for a different type of woman, one with whom he could settle down. Drew/Angel told Kesner to make a list of 10 qualities that he was looking for. On the day of the cookout, when I sauntered in (all dressed up) Drew/Angel pulled Kesner aside and said: “You know the woman that you are looking for? There she is.” He was referring to me. Kesner said “How do you know?”Drew/Angel said he just knew.
… So the Kappas have been involved in me and Kesner’s story from the very beginning; and when Kesner died, they took it upon themselves to gather around me and my mom for a visitation.
When a loved one dies, it is a custom in the Black community to visit, bring food and sit with that person. Typically fraternities and sororities will organize a visitation if a member has lost a parent, spouse or a child. I say this because it is beyond the custom of protocol to officially gather around someone who is not a member, or the spouse of a member. I was “just” Kesner’s girlfriend, after all.
But the Trenton Kappas didn’t seem overly concerned about protocol; instead they just came in droves. They showed up; some who I knew and others who I was just meeting for the first time. It was as if Kesner had whispered in the ear of the Polemarch and said: ‘Take care of my woman.’ They knew that he loved me, so they showed me love; a great expression of brotherhood, even in death.
It was all that I could do to keep it together that night, we had the visitation on Wednesday night at Talithea’s house. My hair was done, I had on a little makeup, and I was wearing a simple tan dress and sandals. I sat in the corner of one of Talithea’s couches. I knew I couldn’t do too much talking or moving around or I might loose it. I didn’t want to expose the rawness of my pain, so I just sat still and worked really hard to keep it together.
I’m not sure how many guys came, there were so many. And a handful of my sorority sisters came also. Mostly people just socialized. I think it was pretty hard for everyone to talk about Kesner, it was all so painful. Nobody really talked about him to me except Drew/Angel. He came and sat by me on the couch. He reminded me of that day at the cookout, about how he’d pointed me out to Kesner. I didn’t cry while he was retelling me the story; it was hard, but I didn’t.
The remainder of the evening was spent watching everyone engage with my mom. My mom has a special ability to hold court; she can literally have a room of people enthralled in one of her stories. She’s funny, and she knows a lot about a lot; so I sat in my corner of the couch and watched her engage the crowd, making her convincing argument about why she didn’t think Lebron James would leave Cleveland.
One of the brothers leaned over to me and asked: “what does she do?” I just laughed. I was happy to share my mom with my community; I just wished it were not under these circumstances.
All in all it was a special night; we had a special evening visitation with the Kappas. They came with food, fellowship and Love, and I felt special. I felt the way that I know Kesner wanted me to feel. I was beginning to heal – a little bit. And I was clear that the gesture was not for me, it was all for Kesner. In his honor. because that’s what brothers do.
The Incredible men of Kappa Alpha Psi.
© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2011