Musing on the MiAKA Men myth: Was the MiAKA lawsuit against AKA just an urban legend?

OPINION - Only time will tell if the real story of the MiAKA men will emerge from the re-emergent fragments comprised of YouTube videos, random blog posts, and pictures from 2007...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

For many black students in America, especially those attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), being accepted into one of the most prestigious African-American fraternities and sororities – known collectively as the “Divine 9” to those interested in black Greek life — is a momentous rite of passage.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (or AKA), founded in 1908, is one of the most famous of these historical organizations that add texture and depth to the landscape of HBCU institutions — which is why the controversy over a clique known only as the “MiAKA Men” caused such an explosive stir several weeks ago. MiAKA made national headlines and spurred prickly conversations for allegedly filing a gender discrimination suit to seek entrance into the AKA fold.

It is now clear that the level of shock over this supposed desire of these men was ironic, given that the legend of Men Interested in Alpha Kappa Alpha has been circulating for years. A blog post from 2007, for instance, shows several masked men who ostensibly belong to this mysterious group, yet even the creator of this bit of copy begged at the time for a “real” member of MiAKA to “come out” and tell his story.

In 2012, this narrative re-emerged when a video of black men, who some believe were attending Prairie View University at the time, filmed imitating AKA style and mannerisms went viral. It was reported on by many respected sites including theGrio.

This video, showing “MiAKA men” imitating the calls, signs, attire and external mannerisms of the ladies of AKA, was accompanied by persistent rumors that MiAKA was threatening to sue Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority for inclusion based on the grounds of gender discrimination. Yet, as has been noted by prominent feminist web site, Jezebel, “In none of the reports did any news outlet quote a source or attorney from MiAKA. Stories on MiAKA’s alleged recent actions are accompanied by the same pictures that went with stories reported on back in 2008. HuffPo and other outlets used as primary sources blog posts that don’t use actual quotes.”

So, what is the truth behind the MiAKA men? If they even exist, what were they trying to prove? And was the real cause of anger in the black community over their interest in infiltrating the AKA organization — or was homophobia at the root of the outrage? Revisiting this strange blip of recent controversy might uncover more truths about the black community’s attitudes about gays than these possibly mythical MiAKA men.

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A history of black greek “affiliate” groups

According to several sources, MiAKA no longer officially exists. For 56 years until 1979, it has been stated on various black Greek sites that MiAKA was a support group for the ladies of AKA. But there have been many similar groups — of both genders — associated with the Divine 9 over the years.

Alpha Angels, Kappa Diamonds, Omega Pearls, Sigma Doves, Iota Sweethearts, Delta Beaux, Zeta Knights and Sigma Rhomeos were all considered to be affiliate organizations to the official fraternities and sororities from which their names derived. But in 1988, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) that oversees black Greeks “declared among all affiliates that there could no longer be any support organizations under AKA guidance,” according to an Alabama State University website, and other sources that detail the disbanding of all affiliate groups.

On February 5, 1979, Cavalier Fraternity, Inc. was formed to take the place of MiAKA, effectively beginning the process of severing ties with Alpha Kappa Alpha, Incorporated. (A Myspace page for Cavalier Fraternity, Inc. confirms this.) Championing such causes as “AIDS Awareness, nursing home visitations, volunteer tutoring, and mentoring programs, without discrimination,” the Cavalier men pride themselves on being an influential entity separate and apart from AKA, with their own sister sorority, the Emerald Queens. Other similar groups, like the former Delta Men (now the Beaux), have also established their own male fraternities in the wake of the 1988 decision of the NPHC.