Kappa Kappa Psi Presents: S3 E17 – Podcast

Bang Co: Hello Brothers and welcome back to KKPsi Presents. I’m your host, Bang Co, National Vice President for Student Affairs.

I am very, incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be part of this production. And of course, I couldn’t do any of this on my own. I have some amazing help from our National Communications Team, from our very bright and amazing student advisory committee, and a special shoutout to our editor who’s been ever so constant and diligent with his work on KKPsi Presents, Ryan Smith.

So for those of you who are returning listeners, welcome back and thank you so much for your support. To those of you who are joining us for the first time, welcome to our show. We truly do appreciate you taking the time to join us today and listening in. This podcast, of course, is brought to you by Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity. The purpose of this series is to provide some insight, some helpful tips, suggestions, and to, from time to time, showcase the different voices of the Brotherhood in a, hopefully, entertaining fashion and/or meaningful way that will hopefully keep you coming back. 

So usually for these episodes I try to bring in a guest or a panel to discuss something. Something important, something that’s happening. And I’ve had three different plans for what we wanted to do throughout this summer. We had our original plan, plan A. Then we had plan B because of COVID.  Then plan C because we finally got used to everything and adapted. And now with everything happening with the murders of our Black Americans and everything happening with George Floyd and so many more individuals, and just the injustice and inequality of our society I wanted to change up the focus of this episode. So I’ll preface and say that I’ll get into things that may trigger individuals, may open up some wounds for others and I just want to preface that. So, to start off this episode I just wanted to say to our Black Brothers and Sisters, members of the Black and African community, African American community that I and so many others cannot fathom the pain and hurt and frustration that you are going through. In addition to that, to be very clear that, myself and so many others, do not fully understand what you are going through and that we are sorry, that I am sorry that you are going through this and it has been this long for people to really take action. I wanted to also make sure that I give everyone a recap of things that have happened so far. What actions have taken place and steps that we are taking just to give everyone a good understanding of what has taken place so far.

So the first thing I wanted to go over and highlight some things here, through these different messages and statements a message of solidarity was released on May 31st by the National President of KKPsi and Tau Beta Sigma. So highlighting some parts here for you: 

From Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma Statement: 

“Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma stand in solidarity with the Black and African American community and with all of our Brothers and Sisters of color. Your lives, your health, and your safety matter. We encourage all of our active and alumni members to reflect upon the missions and ideals of our organizations. Remember that our Rituals direct us to care for each other without reservation, and they show us that compassion and love are essential to our lives.

Sisters and Brothers, we want you to know that we hear you. We recognize and share your anger and your fear. We also recognize the contributions African Americans have made to advance the art of collegiate band music, both culturally and historically[…]  

As we look to the fall semester, the National Leadership Teams will continue to focus on providing support to our chapters and alumni, banding together to tackle the difficulty and uncertainty that lies ahead. Additionally, our joint national leadership will work to continue conversations and programming surrounding diversity and inclusion in order to reinforce and strengthen environments that align with our values and purposes. It is important that we continue to listen to our membership, provide support as needed, and live out our missions and our values.”

Bang Co: Again, this was released on May 31st, a message of solidarity. 

As we are going through, you know, I’m looking through the response to some of the questions. Some of the questions we’ve gotten, some of the statements or responses we’ve gotten to this, you know, 

“why are we talking about Brothers and Sisters of color? This is about our Brothers and Sisters of our Black and African American community.” 

I thought that was really eye-opening. I thought that was really important to read, to hear, and to acknowledge. Another question that we received is 

“Why wait until fall to focus on providing support for our chapters?” 

What I’ll say, from my take on this is that it’s more planning for the fall, not waiting until the fall as we are looking ahead, looking at the big picture. But I think it’s also important to acknowledge and to say that, yes, that is right. We should be looking at it now and what actions we can take now as well. Some of the questions we got [were] like

“alright great, what does that look like? How are we going to do this? What programming is there? What conversations are we going to be having?” 

I think those are important questions. Again, those are from a message of solidarity from [May] 31st. 

Next statement that was released was on June 3rd and highlighting some parts here for you:

From Kappa Kappa Psi Statement: 

“Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity condemns any and all actions rooted in hateful beliefs and rhetoric. There is no place for hate in our organization[…]

Hate and Discord have no place in our organization. We are a fraternity centered on our relationships with one another through our shared experiences of making music and our ritual. It has never been more important for our Brotherhood to stand in support and solidarity with our Black Brothers, as we live our ritualistic values in action each day.” 

Bang Co: And again “Hate and Discord have no place in our organization[…]and we live our ritualistic values in action every day.”

Okay great, that was poetic. It was nice to hear. Some of the comments, I’m rippings some of the comments that I’ve seen [are] that “great, these statements [are] a great start, but what does that mean? How are we going to move from this? What actions are we going to take?”

So again, that was a statement that was released on June 3rd. 

Next, on June 6th a post was made about an article or a blog post that essentially shares some different resources and answers questions that we’ve been receiving from our students and from our chapters. I’m going to highlight something from the post here: 

From Kappa Kappa Psi Statement: 

“Our National Leadership Team is also working to better educate ourselves in equity, diversity, and inclusion and turning our words into action. We are listening to our members, reflecting thoughtfully, and taking a critical look at our operations and programming, recognizing that we will all need to work to make needed changes to create a more diverse and inclusive Fraternity and the band movement as a whole.”

Bang Co: So I thought that was good. How do we turn our words into action? How do we go beyond social media posts? How do we go beyond statements? Alright. Very much in alignment with some of the responses, some of the comments we’ve been receiving. Again, those are three messages, three statements and the one I just read to you was on June 6th. But the thing I really wanted to highlight here, to go a deeper dive into, was the blog post that this was talking about. The blog post is on The Podium Online and is titled Social Advocacy as a Brother of Kappa Kappa Psi. I think this a good piece here for chapters to look at for Brothers and individuals to look at. But I think that the most important thing is to sit down and discuss with one another. Maybe not physically right now but still utilize your meantimes to prioritize these questions and to strategize about how you want to turn words into action, how we can create positive change on the local level. Some of the questions I wanted to highlight for you:

“Can my chapter be involved in a protest or organized march or activity?”

The answer is yes. When advocating our organization does have restrictions because of our tax code on promoting speech that is politically biased or partisan but the ultimate decision to participate should be made as individuals. So again to answer that question:

“Can my chapter be involved in a protest or organized march or activity?”

The answer is yes but be careful to not be politically biased or to play into any partisan messaging. 

Something that I’ve had to really think about and just really play back and forth is that I understand this “political bias,” “partisan,” being careful about that. I’ve seen a lot of comments as well and I think the National Council agrees that this is not a political argument, right? This is a human rights thing. But also we have to make sure that we are looking out for our chapters, looking out for the organization as a whole by making sure we are keeping that messaging really clear and not trying to add in any of that political nature messaging and keeping the messaging on the human rights aspect and the equality aspect. Keeping it focused on the Brothers and Sisters of the Black and African American community. The next question is:

“How can my chapter be involved in donations to other organizations?”

The response is individual donations are not an issue but chapter donations should be voted on and approved by the DOB whether they are centered on our missions or not. The only restriction on where your money can go is that we cannot donate our chapter funds to organizations called “527 organizations” which are basically political advocacy groups that express some sort of political or partisan loyalty to a particular election or candidate or party. So again, individual donations are not an issue and if you are donating as a chapter you do vote on it and it is approved by the DOB. Next question:

“Where can we donate or use our financial resources?”

There is a list here that I’m just going to read off here and I think it’s important to just be very frank with this. Where can these things go? Well, Black Lives Matter. You can donate to:

  • HBCU and their band programs 
  • Organizations that support diversity and inclusion in composition, performance, and music education 
  • Campus or local organizations that promote diversity and inclusion
  • And also, quite simply, support Black businesses in the community 

I thought that was very simple, very powerful as well. As I’ve been spending time, you know, my days and my time in the streets here in D.C. trying to figure out what ways I can be better, I can be a better advocate, a better ally. As I’m speaking to some of these organizers and some of the leaders on the ground here, people keep going back to “you don’t have to do these big gestures, you don’t have to make these big statements. You back up what you are wanting to do with small actions each and every day.” A way you can do that is support Black businesses within your own community. To me, I thought that was very powerful because it’s not something that I really have thought about. It’s not something I distinctly say “I need to do this.” But to me now that I’m thinking about it, now that I’ve digested it a bit here and reflected on it a bit, that is very powerful, right? I’m actively choosing to utilize my funds, my money to show my support financially to an organization where not only am I supporting their business, I’m helping support their family and whatever it is that business is meant for. So again, do your research to see what local Black-owned businesses are within your community that you can support. And then I think the most important thing here is for this blog post on The Podium Online is:

 “What are books or resources that I can start to educate myself?

There [are] many different resources here that you can click. I highly suggest you to take a look and see what you can start to read, watch, learn. I wanted to shout out the TBS Vice President for Special Projects, Siobhan Wilkes here who helped the author put together those lists and added a lot of those great resources. The list starts out with some excellent books. There are also free online courses that people can take. There are also videos that you can watch. There are educational resources that are focused on college students and educators and podcasts even. So again, check it out. It’s on The Podium Online. 

With all that being said, I’ve taken a lot of time to myself and really tried to figure out like, “alright I can read these statements, I can post on social media, I can educate myself.” I think in a way that is action, that itself. But how can I do more? How can I take that action? How can I take the things that I’m learning and create positive change. Something I keep coming back that I often see is “how can somebody be an advocate or an ally? How can someone practice allyship?” This article I found is A Guide to how to Support Marginalized Communities from Harmeet Kaur at CNN. I’m just going to read the article here bit by bit:

From A Guide to how to Support Marginalized Communities:

“Each time these incidents happen …” [Bang Co] She’s referring to the recent murders of members of the Black communities here… “Each time these incidents happen, many of us are left wondering what we can do to support our African-American friends beyond anguished online posts — and in real, meaningful ways.” 

Bang Co: She goes on to say that one way you can do that is be an ally. 

“[An ally is] a person who is not a member of a particular marginalized group but seeks to help end the oppression of those in [the] marginalized group.” [Bang Co] And this here…

“Being an ally […] is a constant process. Allyship can mean different things to different people, and it can be tough to know where to start.”

Bang Co: I was like, yes! [inaudible] I don’t know where to start, I don’t know what to do. I want to help and I’m hurting for our Brothers and Sisters and members of the Black and African American community and I know so many others are as well. Where do we start? This guide goes on. The first thing to do is research. Right. To do your research. I thought that was great. I was like, okay, I’ve been doing my research. I can continue to do my research. You know, “do what you can to educate yourself before you ask others to explain to you.” I thought that was powerful. “There are a wealth of resources available to you online.” Something I thought was really powerful as I was doing my research, trying to educate myself, there’s this video on YouTube. This gentleman, he’s a football player and he goes through and he talks about – the video is titled Uncomfortable Conversation With a Black Man and he essentially shares, and I’ve heard this repeated many times throughout these past weeks; when you’re asking a Black person about these situations, what are you asking for? What’s the purpose of you asking? Are you asking for their experience? Are you asking because you care? Are you asking for them to solve your problems? Are you asking them for solutions? To me, that was very powerful. Sometimes I, myself, forget that when I’m asking I’m so focused on the problem or issue that I forget about the person and being there for them and practicing empathy and really showing my love and care for them. Even though I do love and care for them I’m so focused on that solution that sometimes we overlook that heart, right? The human aspect of it. This leads me to the next thing here is, you know, to reach out to offer your support and comfort. You know, sometimes it’s not always well received, it’s not always welcome. Sometimes when people are hurt they may not want you to be there. It may be embarrassing or they may feel some guilt or it may just be too painful. So just know and be okay with it not always being well received. 

The next thing is to “ask questions when needed.” I think it’s important to point out that we are all learning, that we are constantly learning and that it’s okay to ask questions. But also be mindful of who you’re asking, right? “Don’t lean too heavily on people of color” and especially in this situation that we are in right now, the state of everything that’s happening. “Don’t lean too heavily on Black Brothers and Sisters to be your ‘experts.’” Don’t expect people to speak on behalf of the entire community. Experiences are going to be different. “It’s [also] best that the person that you are asking is someone that you already have a solid relationship with. And be prepared to accept that some people may not want to discuss those things with you” because, you know, there are things we may not experience so we don’t know the depth of the pain, the trauma and the wounds that could open up by asking these questions. So again, being okay to ask questions, but also being okay that sometimes that person may not want to talk about it. 

Next thing, and this kinda ties back to doing your research, is “brush up on [your] history.” Ask[ing] “Wow did something like this happen?” [How,] when another police encounter turns deadly, [how] [it can] come across as tone deaf to communities who have been dealing with entrenched systems of oppression[…] Make sure you are up to speed before you weigh in. 

Something else you can do is to “influence people in your own group.” By this I really think that your close friends, family members, people within your chapter. “Talk to people in your life, particularly those who share the same identity as you. Educate your friends and family about how systems of oppression affect [members of the Black and African American communities] and hold them accountable for their words and actions, as well as the role they may play in those systems.” That’s not always easy. That’s not, yeah, that’s just not easy. I had a very difficult conversation with my mother, you know, she essentially told me not to go out, not to post anything on social media because, you know, it could affect me professionally. It could affect me personally dealing with friends and such and it could just upset people. I had to really, you know, in a way, hold her accountable and reframe the conversation to that this is not what that’s about. If I care more about that, she should be really disappointed in me. So again, it’s not always easy, but trying to influence the people in your own group and holding them accountable as a way to be an ally. 

Next is to “teach those that are younger than you.” If you have children in your family or maybe if it’s even a fraternal little brother or maybe incoming freshmen, having those conversations with them. Just be explicit about how racism and other forms of discirmination affect our community as a whole, our band community, our university, our campus, our band program, our chapter. Just “let them know that it’s important to notice differences in and to stand up for [each] other.”

The next thing is, and it’s going to be really hard for a lot of people too, is to “own up to your mistakes,” right? If you say something wrong on social media, you like the wrong post, you repost something, you say something to a person that is insensitive, own up to your mistakes. Now, “allyship is a process [and] along the way you’re sure to do or say something wrong” probably more often than you’d like to admit. Same thing with myself here. “Now and then you’re going to do or say something wrong but focus on not getting defensive. Take responsibility for your slipups” and move on. Focus on moving forward and learning from it. 

The next big thing is just to listen. By listening, you know, what does that mean? Do I just stand there and just take what people are saying? Well a part of that is to acknowledge your privilege, right? “A critical part of being an ally is recognizing the benefits and power you have in a society because of the identity you were born with. [So] be self-aware and be willing to go against others who share your privileges. 

The next thing is to simply pay attention, right? Pay attention. Recognize how prejudice, discrimination or oppression are being denied, minimized, or justified, right? I see this often, again, within families and within community members standing up for each other and something that my mom always shared with me growing up is, you know, you always make excuses for your loved ones. At the end of the day is that hurting them, is that helping them or hurting them? We’re making excuses for those that we love and those that are close to us. So pay attention. “Recognize how prejudice, oppression, or discrimination are either being denied [like it’s not happening at all,] it’s being minimized [like it’s not a big deal,] or justified” like this is deserving. 

Next is “know when to talk less. This is not about you. You don’t need to comment on every situation, [to share your perspective], or go out of your way to prove how aware or how [woke] you are,” right?  “Uplift others without speaking for them. Let others have the microphone for a change.” I think this to me, I was like, this blew my mind. We see this so often on social media as well. Because, you know, there are groups who want to help, but in a sense they just need to prove how woke they are or to stand up for everything. Sometimes you end up speaking for people and sometimes you end up speaking over people and that’s not really helpful. 

The next thing here is to “understand others’ experiences. Instead of offering up your own thoughts, listen to people who are marginalized when they tell you about their experiences, frustrations, and emotions. Sit with that for a while”[…]You’re talking essentially about when we want, when we’re practicing empathy, what does that look like? I mean, sometimes it doesn’t mean like, when someone is in a dark place, it doesn’t mean being the hero and turning the lights on because the person may not be ready for that. So being able to sit there and be vulnerable and to listen and to share in their experiences and just to be in that moment with them. 

This article has broken up how to be an ally. The first part we went over was to reach out, the next was to listen, and the next part here is to “stand up,” right? To “Build networks.” You can’t advocate, you can’t ally and create positive changes doing the work alone all the time. You need to find other allies, you need to see, you know, other people who can keep you up and who can keep you accountable. This means working with different individuals, different organizations, but, you know, it’s not healthy to go at this by yourself. 

The next is to “use your privilege to help others.” It can be scary and it does require taking risks to call out injustice and discrimination when you see it. You know, something you can do is “intervene when you see instances of racism or other situations that look unsafe.” There [are] also the “5 D’s of bystander intervention” that I think would be very powerful for people to look at. This “includes de-escalation of the [issue], calling others for help, checking in with the person involved, speaking up and documenting what’s happening. If you’re serious about this, I’d definitely think, you know, utilizing the “5 D’s of bystander intervention,” talking and discussing that within your chapter, how you can implement that as individuals would be very powerful. 

Next is to “know your rights when you are videotaping.” I don’t know enough about this, I won’t go into legal talk so, you know, do your research about that. 

“Voice your concerns to those in power.” This means, and this is what many people have been doing, sharing your thoughts and concerns with the National Counsil, going to your district officers, your governors. This could be your DOB, this could be, you know, local politicians and whoever, you know, whoever is in authority that can influence change and help you create change. That’s really important for you to be consistent in letting them know your concerns. 

“Stand in solidarity. March alongside people from marginalized groups in protests and demonstrations.” Quite honestly, growing up, never had done this. I heard lots about it, heard lots of horror stories from my family, you know, growing up in different countries. So I’m really just learning about how to protest and how to be a part of a demonstration and I will say its very powerful, it’s very eye-opening to see the hurt, the pain, but also the sense of pride and hope in people who are demonstrating that, you know, it’s directly affecting. I think that’s very powerful. 

Of course “donat[ing] your time and money” like we have discussed earlier.

The last thing here that I wanted to go over with you all, […] I don’t know if you’ve looked at the Black Lives Matter website but there are incredible resources. Of course, these resources are a little bit more directly for the chapters, the Black Lives Matter chapters across the U.S., but I think it’s also very helpful because it gives us insight into what this organization is doing, why we’re doing it, and giving us insight to how they operate so we can better look at what, you know, when people as for change, when people ask for action sometimes I have to, you now, I have to ask back, I have to ask for clarity. Like, well “what are you looking for, what does that look like?” Because the last thing I would want to do is to create change, policies, that would make things worse or just don’t help at all, right? It’s not really focused on the problem, it’s not really focused on fixing what the main issue is. I think it’s always important to look at how organizations are dealing with this on a day to day basis or fighting, or, you know, working towards a solution on a day to day basis. How they’re, you know, what they clarify as action, how they develop their game plan, their mission and vision in all this. There is a resource, many resources, but the one that I pulled for you all today was really talking about feeling justice and something that, I’m just going to read through all this for you to hopefully give you and your chapter a little bit of an overview for you to look more into. So from this resource, it says: 

“The concrete questions are:

  1. How can you prepare and integrate healing justice into direct actions.
  2. How can we institutionalize healing justice into the culture of our chapters.

Some of the ideas, and this tool kit might not feel second nature to us all, and it may even feel like we’re taking time away from the actual work of organizing. There are so many reasons why supporting ourselves and each other in these ways might not feel comfortable, but healing justice is the work. Taking care of ourselves and each other is how we live more fully in our principles and values.”

And I thought that was really powerful. I think that a lot of times there comes a lot of shame and a lot of pressure internally for us to continue to do due and, of course, there’s burnout and to take a look at how from the Black Lives Matter packet here it says that “taking care of ourselves and each other is the work” so that we can continue to show up as our best selves, to continue fighting the good fight. So the way this is broken down is into three main parts. 

The first part is “preparing for action.” It says here “In the preparation for direct action, we often get singularly focused on our targets, our messaging, and all the logistics that come with organizing our people into the streets. What often gets sidelined are the emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of our work that impact our ability to stay rooted in our fuller selves.” 

So when the packet goes over how to prepare for the action, you know, there’s things like centering and grounding and gives some insight into what are some grounding exercises like, you know, chanting, check-ins, box press (?). They’re also talking about envisioning. Taking the time to remember and reaffirm the vision, to refocus on what the problem is and how the organization can incorporate the different voices, how to listen, how to check-in throughout the process itself. You know, here it talks about organizing community and support resources and, you know, many different resources here, different organizations that they list. 

Going from preparing to action the packet goes to “during an action.” It states here “as we noted earlier, trauma can sneak in and take over in high pressure situations. Trauma exacerbates the stress of coordinating an action and staying present and grounded while in the midst of action. Tracking and addressing fluctuating needs in the midst of action is critical, yet challenging.” So it gives some insight into how to go about this, right? It talks about defining roles, questions for the point person to consider, you know, how to make sure that people are fed and hydrated and, you know, how you can pull in the community and utilize these community resources and support. So for example, during the action, so, again, during this past week or so being in the streets in D.C. I was ast- dumfounded. I mean, I thought I was just marching, I thought I was there to be part of the protest and demonstration. I did not think that I was going to get help from community members as well. You know, I packed snacks, I packed a water bottle, but I was out there all day and, you know, I don’t ever wear sunscreen and I, for the first, you know, one of the first few times in my life I’ve actually burnt. But there were organizations out there that were providing medical care, that were providing free water bottles, food, were providing shelter. And then, the more and more we got into these protests and demonstrations, local businesses started opening up their doors for AC, for restroom, for restrooms. You know, local restaurants were giving out free food, people were making sure that there were masks to hand out and hand sanitizers to hand out as well. So really, really powerful ways to look at how you can take direct action. 

The next thing here is “following an action. Restoration and resilience.” So it talks about here when you’re looking at restoration and resilience it’s not just something that we incorporate into our work during direct action or crisis. It’s really about how you can utilize the results or the momentum of the action to lay a foundation for the practice of healing and the practice of justice and the practice of equality and equity. So they talk about here in “trauma research. Resilient practices are often those which restore us, bringing us back into a motivated and committed framework. Resilience is distinct from coping. We often use coming to try and get through or numb following a trauma. Coping has its own utility, but growth comes from eventually addressing the trauma, the healing, and the resilience” So here it talks about group process, it talks about individual work and again, other great resources. And the reason I wanted to go over this is to show you the, you know, when people are asked for action, when people are asking for changes I think people are right. You know, when people are asking, you know, we want to see more than just statements, we want to see more than just this social media post and I think that people are right. Like, yes, 100%. But sometimes, you know what that change looks like, what are these actions that we need to take and how do we go about this? And so the reason I wanted to show you or, I guess, share with you about what Black Lives Matter does and how they organize their action helps give us insight into how we, as individuals and chapters, can start to develop action steps. How we can go through that action, so how to prepare for that action, how to go through and execute those actions and what that follow through or follow up looks like. 

This is an episode that I did not plan, probably did not articulate very well either. Something I just wanted and I thought was just very important to share with you all. And this may on deaf ears and I think that’s okay because we’re not going to change everyone’s minds immediately. You know, like Kaur, the author had mentioned, allyship is a process. It’s a process for those of us who are engaged in the work to keep fighting the good fight. It’s a constant process for those who may not have the full understanding yet and are maybe resistant to it. 

So with all of that being sad, I hope that this episode has given some insight into what has taken place so far from the National Council, what the statements have been, what our promises are, and where you can find these resources. That’s one thing. Second thing is how to be an ally. Being an ally sometimes may not seem as direct because there’s not these big gestures, these big posts. It’s really based on small actions you do each and every day. The third thing is how to take action actively based on the Black Lives Matter chapter resources. So really those are the three things I hope to give you some insight into, of course, there’s always more learning that we could and should do.

But I just wanted to end on this note that this is a human rights issue. And to our Brothers and Sisters of the Black and African American community, I just wanted to share that we are with you. We hear you and we see you. And while this, these actions took way too long, there’s a lot of work to do but it’s worth it because, if our organization is not looking out and protecting members of our, all members of our organization then I don’t know what it is that we’re doing. If there are members in our organization that feel unsafe, that feel unheard, that feel like they don’t matter, I question “what is it that we are doing?” The priority right now is to provide not only change, positive change, and not only action, but also a place of healing, a place that you can call home, a place that you feel safe. So to all of our Black Brothers and Sisters out there, I just want you to know that your voice matters, your concern matters, your lives matter. Black Lives Matter. 

As always, I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to tune in today. Thank you to everyone that helped make this episode possible and just much love to you all. Thank you.

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