Monday, April 27, 2009

What is wrong with me ?

This weekend I participated in the Chapter’s Walk for Babies – March of Dimes National program plus I attended a “Blue & White BBQ” in the same location as the march. Both events were free, well advertised: email messages were sent to over 500 local Sigma’s and Zeta’s and an event page was created on Facebook for those collegiate members who use FB to send and receive party invitations.

While the BBQ could be considered a “party” I don’t think the ”Walk for Babies” could be considered a party event. In fact it clearly sits within the PBS National Program as a nationally sanctioned Social Action project. So at the very least, these two events appealed to either type of brother found locally: the socially-conscious or socially-aware brother.

The turn out was ten brothers (six collegiate and four alumni). So I have to ask myself – what am I doing wrong? Or more precisely, what are WE doing wrong?

Here is some interesting math:

During the 1970’s when universities and colleges aggressively recruited African-American students there was a huge explosion of enrollment and membership in BLGO’s (Black Letter Greek Organizations). Specifically, PBS collegiate membership intake was estimated at greater than 3,000 new collegiate members each year. For the decade 1969-1979 it is conservatively estimated that 30,000 new members were inducted into PBS.

During the 1980’s the number of membership intake decreased but it is still estimated at approximately 2,000 new collegiate members each year. For the decade 1980-1989 it is conservatively estimated that 20,000 new members were inducted into PBS.

During the 1990’s it can be estimated that approximately 1,000 new collegiate members joined each year. Therefore for the decade 1990-2000 it is a conservative estimate that 10,000 new members were inducted into PBS.

Thus the total number of collegiate men pledged into PBS between the years 1969-2000 could be conservatively estimated at 60,000. These men are members currently between the ages of 30 – 60 years old. So why are only less than 5% active in the fraternity? What is there about PBS today that has turned off 57,000 brothers from wanting or needing to wear their colors?

Granted a number of collegiate brothers who pledged did it on a whim or were not serious in intent. It was for the social aspect of hanging out with prophyte members that attracted them to join. Additionally there are most likely members for whom the BLGO experience was not a positive experience and it would be highly unlikely that they would continue their membership into an alumni chapter. If these two pools of members are estimated at 20% that would still leave 45,000 brothers that have made the conscious decision not to have anything to do with PBS.

I put this question to you. What are we, WE doing that is pushing these brothers away? What is there in the alumni chapter dynamic that is so anti-brotherhood, so anti-social action, so anti-fraternity that our members consistently vote with their feet, never to return?

The African-American male who is between 30-60 years of age wants to belong to a group of committed Black men serving their community. You see him at church on Sunday. You see him participating in after school-programs or at little league games coaching his son or daughter. This man is not hiding from us, or a mystery. I see him everyday driving a Lexus or Camry. Or in the elevator in my building wearing a suit and tie.

There is something fundamentally wrong with our graduate chapters.

There is something fundamentally broken with how we market and publicize ourselves.

There is something basically broken with PBS that men have elected to not to acknowledge or uphold their membership in something they were so in love with.

I don’t know what it is. Do you ?

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