“Every member shall be honest with himself, as with his brothers…”
We, the International Executive Board (IEB) of FarmHouse Fraternity, find ourselves at a crossroads in FarmHouse history–one that necessitates clear leadership and an uncompromised moral compass. We can remain silent in the face of a national conversation about race or we can use this as an opportunity to create our own dialogue about the role race plays in FarmHouse.
When FarmHouse was established, our seven Founders wrote The Object, a statement of timeless guiding principles. While their words were not written with knowledge of current events, we continue to reflect on The Object and have allowed its intent to shape this message to our membership.
“Every member shall be honest with himself, as with his brothers.”
Honesty cannot be blinded by explicit or implicit bias. It cannot be overshadowed by other good deeds. Being honest with ourselves means that we take accountability, responsibility and action at all levels for inappropriate conduct, especially with regard to a lack of dignity and respect to our fellow human beings. It means we are willing to speak up and confront our brothers, even when it is uncomfortable or exposes our most vulnerable selves.
Our commitment to honesty leads FarmHouse to recognize our own shortcomings with equity, racism and inclusion. There have been instances of racial insensitivity and racial bias which have involved multiple FarmHouse chapters within recent years. While we have addressed these incidents, we have not done enough. We continue to lack the resolve and dedicate the resources needed to eradicate racism in our organization. We expect an immediate commitment to do better. We must stand against and confront racism, bigotry, and hate.
“Men elected to our membership are considered to be of good moral character…and to give promise of service to their fellow-men and to the world.”
Men of good moral character cannot harbor racist thoughts, take racist actions, or stand by when others exhibit racist behavior. We expect our members to stand up and speak out against injustice. To do otherwise simply does not align with our organization’s beliefs. Further, our promise of service is more than just donations and charitable work. We need to commit to doing more.
As the leadership entrusted with moving FarmHouse forward, we are taking the following steps to help our organization, chapters and members honor the promise of service to their fellow-men:
- Ask that any FarmHouse member directly affected by what is happening in our nation reach out to our staff for support or to offer your thoughts on how we can honor the promise outlined in The Object. We see you, we hear you, and we commit ourselves to continually learning from you and your experiences.
- Ask all chapter members to seek resources to educate themselves on the national conversation about race and privilege. Some resources for consideration include:
- Talking About Race: Whiteness – National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race – Beverly Daniel Tatum
- Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack– Peggy McIntosh
- 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice – Corinne Shutack
- How to be an Antiracist – Ibram Kendi
- Ask chapter officers to partner with staff and campus services to have honest conversations about chapter norms and practices. We ask that you consider the following questions:
- What role do race and other identities (e.g., sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion) play in membership decisions?
- Are racial slurs or other insensitive language used by chapter members, and what negative effects do these have on your brothers?
- Is your chapter a place that allows open discussion and consideration for difference of opinions?
- Ask you hold us accountable in the months and years to come. We do not have all the answers and recognize that this is not the end of the conversation. Accordingly, the IEB will be appointing a committee of FarmHouse members and friends to help us navigate the path ahead. We welcome the names of those who you believe will forge a path forward with us while building a stronger and more inclusive FarmHouse.
Let us be unequivocal in our commitment and clear in our message. FarmHouse does not condone or support racism, bigotry, homophobia or other form of discrimination. We look for men who share our values no matter their race, sexual orientation, or religion–you have a place in FarmHouse. A fraternity should be a safe place, and a place where differences are honored and accepted. It should be a place where men are not defined by how they look, where they are from, what they think or how they worship. We believe FarmHouse can be this place.
We challenge each of you, as members, to read this message a few times. We ask you to refamiliarize yourself with The Object, to honestly reflect on how you are living it and/or failing to meet our obligations, and most importantly recognize the value of every life and the promise in all young men. FarmHouse men are men of action and leadership. This point in time is when to be and become such will require a sacrifice of time, pleasures and comforts.
FarmHouse International Executive Board