Iota Phi Theta – ep.128

Kappa Alpha Psi – ep.127
February 22, 2024
 Black Employee Collective  – ep.129
March 7, 2024

Giving a shoutout to Iota Phi Theta, I had the pleasure of talking to Dominic Honoré from Iota Phi Theta, who shares the rich history of the organization, his unique crossing journey and how the fraternity seeks to build Brotherhood and community impact.

Dominic Honoré was born in San Jose CA but raised in Manteca CA. Both of his parents are graduates of San Jose State University. His Father is a firefighter and his mother is a labor & delivery nurse. He is the oldest of two siblings having a younger sister and comes from a mixed race background: His Father is Louisiana Creole & his Mother is Biracial (White, Black & Puerto Rican). He went to East Union High School and Attended University of La Verne from 2015-2019. He played college football as a Linebacker and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Communications in May 2019. He Pledged Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc. in Spring 2019 within a line of 2 under the Theta Gamma Undergrad Chapter & Beta Zeta Omega Graduate Chapter. He is an Ace. His Line Brother (Deuce) was also his teammate. He was a Graduate Assistant for Academics & Compliance at Texas A&M Kingsville for their Athletics Department. He currently works for the Outreach Department at Delta College in Stockton CA and is a substitute teacher for high schools within Manteca Unified School District. He aspires to become an Educational Counselor at the High School, Junior College or 4 Year University level and coach Football. He is currently finishing up his Masters in Educational Counseling with a PPS Credential at CSU Stanislaus in 2024. He resides in Manteca CA with his beautiful wife Chabryel of 3 years, his 2 year old daughter Arabella, and soon to be born daughter Elyse.

IG: @itsdom4

 #TalentedGentlemen #WestCoastOwtlawz

Melyssa Barrett:  Welcome to the Jali Podcast. I’m your host, Melissa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around equity, diversity, and inclusion. Each week I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share or is actively part of building solutions in the space. Let’s get started.

Dominic Re, he was born in San Jose, California, but raised in Manteca. Both of his parents are graduates of San Jose State University. His father is a firefighter and his mother is a labor and delivery nurse. He’s the oldest of two siblings having a younger sister and comes from a mixed race background. His father is Louisiana Creole and his mother is biracial, white, black and Puerto Rican. He says he’s white passing an appearance. He went to East Union High School and attended University of Laverne from 2015 to 2019. He played college football as a linebacker and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications in May, 2019. He pledged IOTA five Theta Fraternity Incorporated in spring 2019 with a line of two under the Theta Gamma undergrad chapter and Beta Zeta Omega graduate chapter. He is an ace. His line Brother Deuce was also his teammate and was part of the process of Iota Phi Theta officially being chartered at the University of Laverne.

He was a graduate assistant for academics and compliance at Texas a and m Kingsville for their athletics department, and currently works for the outreach department at Delta College in Stockton, California, as well as substitute teaching for high schools within Manteca Unified High School District. He is aspiring to become an educational counselor at the high school junior college or four year university level, as well as coach football. He’s currently finishing up his master’s degree in educational counseling with a PPS credential at CSU Stanislaus, which he will do in 2024. He currently resides in Manteca with his beautiful wife, Shari, of three years and his 2-year-old daughter Arabella and soon be born daughter Elise.

All right. So I am excited. I’m excited every week, but as I get to speak this week with Dominic, who is a member of IOTA five Theta, member of the D nine Community fraternity, and I’m just excited because I started this kind of interviews of the D nine last year, and there’s just so much great work going on out there that I think a lot of people don’t know. I, of course rushed when I was 50 years old and there was no person in my family that was a Greek, so it was a whole new experience for me, and I just appreciate the brotherhood, the sisterhood. It’s just an amazing opportunity to live your life differently. So I appreciate you being here, Dominic, and am excited to talk to you.

Dominic Honoré:  Yes, I appreciate the opportunity to come speak. Thank you so much for having me.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah. So I figured we would just start out a little bit with you telling us a little bit about how you got to where you are today.

Dominic Honoré:  Well, I was raised here in the Central Valley. I was born in San Jose, but we came to Manteca when I was three and a half years old. Went to Union High School, had the opportunity to go play a college ball at the University of La Verne, and that’s where I got in touch with Divine Nine. And my first introduction to what the Divine Eye was was my freshman year at A BSU meeting. They did a tour in the main Hall Ballroom, as you would say, and they had all the tables of all the D nine there, and I went to all the tables and they all thought I was white. And they’re like, oh yeah, we integrated this and this and this, and I’m like, I’m not white. They’re like, oh, wow. I mean, that’s been all my life. But it was just funny that someone was like, oh yeah, we integrate.

We welcome everybody, blah, blah, blah. But I think going to the IOTA table and just hearing the history and listening to the core values that they have, that we have scholarship leadership, citizen fidelity and brotherhood excellence in the classroom, being an upstanding member in the community, taking leadership roles and everything that you do as far as just being the tip of the spear and being that man of action and then always keeping faith. Faith in God. Were the only fraternity with the cross on our shield, on our symbol and then brotherhood, and I didn’t understand what that meant, I guess, until I finished crossing. And just like you’re part of a lifetime brotherhood, I’ve seen that play out just in my professional and personal life. Everywhere I go and I see a brother and they automatically see me and it’s shaking hands, introducing yourself, what do you do? What can I help you with? How can we feed off each other and build off each other? That has been, I think one of the greatest benefits to me personally is I can go anywhere in the United States and in the world even, and there may be another brother around that I can connect with and help out or he can help me, et cetera, et cetera.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, it’s amazing. It absolutely is, and I don’t think people quite understand it until they’re in it. And you crossed a few years ago,

Dominic Honoré:  I crossed spring 19 of my senior year. I was part of the process to get IFI Theta Chartered at the University of Laverne. So the first line was a solo, which, and it is funny, all of us are all football players. So the first line was my older teammate who is two years older than me. Well, yeah, he was two years old. He was a senior when I was a junior, and he was pledging. He wanted me to pledge my junior year, but I was in the middle of offseason workouts and I pledge in at night and then going to 5:00 AM workouts. I was like, ah, I can’t do that. So I waited to my senior year when I was done with football to pledge, and I got to pledge under our former national grant players, Richard Johnson, who was also one of my just mentors.

I lived with him for a year. He welcomed me into his home and just taught me a lot about how to serve the community. He’s also a history teacher in Ontario High School, but I learned so much from him that now that I’m back home, I take a lot of what he’s taught me and how to reach out to especially students of color and help them and serve them in different ways as opposed to other students because they need certain resources and assets that others maybe don’t require. Especially in California. Yesterday I went to the National College Black Expo in Oakland, and students of color from California get advertised by HBCUs because they don’t advertise them a lot out here. It’s growing, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. And I brought a lot of my students from Western Ranch High School up there. Some of them are on the step team and everything like that, and they just got to see and they’re like, wow, we would never get this type of stuff just at school as much. And again, it’s growing at their campus, but just giving them that resource and that access to that. That’s great.

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, I mean, I think it’s so awesome that you work at San Joaquin Delta College now.

Dominic Honoré:  I work there, and then I also substitute teach mostly at Western Ranch High School in Stockton, and then also my alma mater, east Union Manteca.

Melyssa Barrett:  Oh, wow. You’re all over. Okay, awesome. I love it. So tell me about, maybe you can talk a little bit about the history of Iota Phi Theta, because I know they have kind of a history, and they came about as one of the last of the D nine. There were a lot of things going on, I think at the time that you all were chartered.

Dominic Honoré:  Yes, I notified the of Attorney Incorporated was founded September 19th, 1963 at Morgan State College, which is now known as Morgan State University on the fifth step of Hersch Gymnasium. So if you think about the year 1963, we were founded weeks, so August 28th was the march on Washington. We were founded four days after the church bombing of those little girls in Birmingham, Alabama. The assault on the, I forgot what bridge it was, where they walked across the bridge and they all got beaten. That was in April. Bloody Sunday.

Yeah, bloody Sunday. That was happening. Malcolm X gave his famous grassroots speech in Detroit, Michigan at the time, I believe. So there was just a lot of stuff going on at when we were officially chartered and created. We were not founded by typical college students. They were 12 members. Most of them were in the military, and they were all significantly older than the stereotypical age of a college student, so that they all had, some of ’em had wives and kids and careers, and they were just coming back from the military on the GI Bill to get their education to further whatever career pursuits. So it was different. And we were founded so much later than the rest of the D nine because about 40 years because at Semi Gammar Road was founded in 1922, so there was a big gap. There’s about a 40 year gap in between us and the rest of the D nine. But yeah, we were just founded right in the middle of when everything was turning its head, and we were fighting to make the progress that we have now.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, obviously there was an urgency to create the fraternity. Do you think that, I mean, for one, I know it was founded in Morgan State, you said, were there things happening there or they just got together, they knew each other, or how did this happen?

Dominic Honoré:  A lot of them were childhood friends. Again, they were all service members. So that strong value of patriotism and wanting to make the country better, like you go off and serve your country, but you’re not equal at home.

They’re like, we need to do something about this. Plus it’s in Baltimore. Baltimore is not far. It’s a border state when you look at the north and the south. So it’s like you have that. So they’re able to see, they’re not far from Washington DC either. So it’s like they’re able to just see what the heck is going on. I’m sure some of them are at the march on Washington, because my grandpa lives in Baltimore, but is Washington DC pd, so it’s only a drive away. So I’m sure they were witness to this, and they were like, we need to create an organization that’s going to continue to serve the community.

Melyssa Barrett:  So then in terms of, and I know all the D nine have community service and social activism in their DNA and it’s kind of part of fraternal life. So what components or how does IO Deify Theta engage and give back to the community both locally and nationally? Obviously,

Dominic Honoré:  We partner right now, we’re big in partnering with the naacp. There’s going to be a youth summit at Delta College in mid-March, I believe that we’ll be privy to. We also try to just, especially where I’m at in the North Central Valley where we’re at, you don’t see us a lot. Everybody’s kind of just tucked away. So we’re kind of just partnering up with the high schools and nonprofit organizations for mentorship and just trying to spread the word and bring more, I would say just black community in this area. I know Delta College has what’s called a black empowerment or black educational empowerment organization. Me and another brother of mine that I work with, Mr. Evan Wade, he put me on that organization. So now I’m like, okay, so what can I do to help reach these kids and get kids around Stockton and Manteca and even Modesto together so that we can create some type of community here that can propel them elsewhere, but they have a positive experience while they’re still at home.

Melyssa Barrett:  Oh, that’s awesome. And I know there’s always opportunities for mentorship in the community. It’s amazing. So can you talk a little bit about, I mean, I talked a little bit about the sisterhood that I feel in my sorority, but can you talk a little bit about brotherhood and I mean, it is truly a cornerstone of a fraternity, but how do you get a sense of brotherhood within your fraternity, and how has that brotherhood really impacted you personally?

Dominic Honoré:  It is just doing life with people. It’s just some of brothers from the Bay Area were at my wedding. It’s just the experience that you share with men, and I almost equate it to you’re being a part of a team. You are doing meetings, you are trying to plan how to serve your community and doing that work because it is about work. I think kids get the misconception, college kids. It’s like you see strolling and you see all the fun stuff. It’s like, no, there’s work. We are a nonprofit organization that is here to serve the community. So you doing that work and going to events and just sharing in that commonality, like, Hey, we all went through the same process to be members of this organization, and now we’re going out in the community and serving together. And you just build a brotherhood with that. And then again, going across state lines and you recognize people wearing your colors that went through the same process and are doing the same work as you, but they’re all the way in a whole nother state. It’s like, all right, we already have a mutual understanding. It’s like when you see somebody and you, it’s like, oh, we were raised the same or whatever. It’s like we were brought up in the same thing. So it’s like we already, we don’t even have to discuss

What to do. It’s like we already know what to do because we all have gone through the same process.

Melyssa Barrett:  That’s for sure. So can you tell us a little bit about your specific journey in terms of how you were brought up and how has that made a difference for you in terms of, and I know you’re young yourself. I crossed when I was 50, but you crossed in college and it is a different experience, I think, at the college level versus an alumni chapter.

Dominic Honoré:  Well, because I decided to wait until my senior year, it was almost like a transition into grad chapter because usually you cross your sophomore year and then you do all the undergrad stuff and you do the fun stuff, and then you go into graduate where it was, it was like I crossed, and then it was learn the stuff. Okay. Now, I was in grab chapter meetings when I was still living in SoCal with my dean, so I was already put into more of the business side. Granted, I still got to enjoy it, but I was already like, because I live with my dean, I’m already going to meetings. I had the opportunity to be in an ad for my Neo who came after me, and he ran track at University of Laverne. So it was like I was already put in the work, the process of just, Hey, so we were a citywide chapter, so we’re trying to just get as many members as we can at Cal Poly Pomona, university of Laverne, Cal State Fullerton. My chapter was founded at Cal State San Bernardino. So it was immediately like, okay, so let’s get to work and recruit new members. We’re going to the high schools, speaking in the high schools, doing BSU summits and all this stuff like that. So it was like I said, transition into grad chapter.

Melyssa Barrett:  Okay, awesome. Awesome. So then in terms of the impact, what do you think the impact on the community for people of color meant for Iota Phi Theta?

Dominic Honoré:  It’s a platform. You think about even the different organizations that were founded in our history as far as NAACP or Jack and Jill or anything like that, it is a platform to be an upstanding member of the community, serve your community, and just fellowship with people of like-minded individuals. And in doing so, it’s like you build comradery. You build a community with people, and it’s not even just with iota, it’s being D nine in general. I met you at the Juneteenth celebration in Lathrop, and it was just like, wow, there’s actually Deltas out here. That’s great. Let me go speak to them and introduce myself. The history teacher at Western Ranch, he’s an Alpha. I walked in his office and I said his founding date, and he was like, what you know about that? And I was ida, and now we have lunch every day.

So it’s like being in these organizations and you go anywhere and it’s like you meet other people and it’s like, wow, you’re out here too. Awesome. Let’s link up. Let’s talk. Let’s fellowship together. What do you got going on? And that’s great. That makes me feel whole as a person, because it’s like, I don’t even have to know you. But again, it’s like you went through a similar type of process and you’re in an organization that’s out there trying to reach people and do things and promote the wealth or promote the wellbeing of people of color that comes down to,

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. And it’s funny because I think there’s this, it’s kind of a love hate thing where we love each other. On the other hand, we poke at each other, right?

Dominic Honoré:  Yes. And we’re the little brothers. So it’s like, ha ha. All right. Well, we still have a founder living. We can talk to them. Oh,

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, we’re here. We’re here. We’re all working together and doing a lot of similar things. And I think the more we connect together, the stronger we are as a people. And so I think a lot of times I think we look like we’re trying to fight individually, but one of the things about the D nine and the Panhellenic Council is really coming together, and you talked about partnerships with the N-A-A-C-P, and there’s so many opportunities for us to connect together. And in many cases, we’re part of multiple organizations, the same people working D nine that are members of the N-A-A-C-P. And so just trying to move the ball forward in our community is kind of, it shouldn’t just be us, but we definitely have to fight and make the movement. So then what, are there things coming up locally for you all, or that you want to highlight? Are there specific things within the mission or values you want to tell us a little bit more about?

Dominic Honoré:  Besides the Youth Summit? Not right now, no. Just kind of preparing for that to,

Melyssa Barrett:  What will that entail?

Dominic Honoré:  It’s going to be basically different high schools coming, and it might even be middle schools or elementary schools. I’m not sure I have to get more information, but I know it’s high schools and they’re going to come to this youth summit at Delta College. It’s probably going to be mostly Stockton Unified, and they’re going to come together and they’re just, again, it’s sharing resources and getting in touch with the youth, because I don’t think the kids know that there is an NAACP chapter in Stockton. So just kind of making the presence known and sharing any sharing resources with the kids so that they can maybe reach out form relationships network and figure out, Hey, I can go talk to this person if I want to go here or whatever. Will probably also be Evan Wade and I will be probably sharing just the different resources that Delta has at its disposal, and being able to get kids maybe direct transfers to HBCUs, all the service, the program that we have on campus as far as the Black Educational Empowerment Organization for the learning community, they can sign up for if they decide to go to Delta College, different things like that.

But other than that, yeah, I’m not in this. Yeah, I’m not sure. Every year, my chapter in SoCal, they do what’s called Project Gyro, where we hand out clothes to the homeless during Christmas time. So we’re always taking donations and gathering up a bunch of stuff. So that next year we have clothes and everything to give out to the homeless on Skid Row.

Melyssa Barrett:  Oh, homeless on Skid Row?

Dominic Honoré:  Yes.

Melyssa Barrett:  Oh, okay. Wow. Interesting. And then in terms of goals and aspirations for the Iota Phi Theta chapter, I don’t know how big your chapter is. I know in the Central Valley, they’re typically, chapters aren’t very large, and so the work falls on a very few, and partnerships, I think become more critical.

Dominic Honoré:  Yes, they do. Yeah, the Central Valley is just, there’s not a lot. So it’s just kind of branching out and making connections with the different college campuses and getting in touch with the students of color in the area just to maybe spread the message and spread what we have to offer and just building more community around the campuses. And then even keeping in touch with the Bay Area chapter to kind of just all partner up in Northern California and get things out. Yeah, it is very small, so it is hard to have people everywhere. So it’s just doing as much as you can with the time that you have to build community and spread the message and just put IO out there on the map.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah, I love it. I love it. And you currently are substitute teaching and doing all sorts of things. How do you think you being part of iota, how does that translate to some of the youth that you work with?

Dominic Honoré:  Oh, I get to talk to youth about it all the time. So the alpha that I work with, the history teacher, Mr. Roland Davis, he’s the BSU advisor at Western Ranch High School. So they’re always asking us, what is it? What do you guys have to do? All this stuff like that, whatever. And they ask ’em much of the scary questions. I’m like, guys, it’s not that. Just show up, work hard, study your information, all this stuff like that. Because especially a lot of the young ladies that we have at the BSU at Western Ranch, they want to go to the HBCUs and they want to pledge. And I’m like, okay, just make sure you’re researching. You research that specific chapter at the school, get to know the people that are already in there and just do your research as far as the organization in general, and make sure it aligns with who you are as a person and don’t join for the clout and all that stuff.

If you’re not going to join to be of service and build community, then you probably shouldn’t do it. Not all the glitz and the glamor and the fun and the parties and the strolling, all that. That’s a byproduct. But you have to be able to put in the work. No organization wants t-shirt wearers. We don’t want that. We want people that are out there going to do stuff because that’s what it’s all about. So that’s what I really try to impart to my students because when I’m on campus, and he and Mr. Roland Davis, he’s the history teacher, so he’s always on campus, so it’s resources for them to come ask us. So it’s nice to be able to share that and get direct access to kids that are on their way to potentially take that step.

Melyssa Barrett:  And shout out to Roland Davis. He is one of my Soros husbands. So there are all kinds of connections. And I’ll say a special shout out to Evan as well. And he’s been on the podcast before, so you have to check out his episode as well. He is just a library of resource when it comes to black history and being a professor of African-American Studies, he is an amazing individual. So what else can you tell us? How should we end?

Dominic Honoré:  I’ll just, as I say to the kids, this is a platform. This is a community we are here to serve. We are here to fellowship with like-minded individuals for the continued progress of people of color in this country and abroad. So if you want to join, just make sure whatever organization that you join aligns with your values and just be ready to do work.

Melyssa Barrett:  That’s it. That’s it. And congratulations to you. I know you have a baby on the way.

Dominic Honoré:  Yes. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes. When are you both due?

Dominic Honoré:  April 1st. So the day before my birthday. But we probably won’t make it past, I’m being honest. I’m like, yeah, it’s coming. It’s coming.

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, congratulations. I know you have another, is it, is she two or three?

Dominic Honoré:  She’s two.

Melyssa Barrett:  Two, okay. So you’re going to be busy.

Dominic Honoré:  Yep. Girl, dad, I have two girls.

Melyssa Barrett:  I love it. I love it. These are future deltas

Dominic Honoré:  Maybe. I am definitely going to expose my daughters very early to D nine to Greek life, because I think I would love to carry on that legacy in my, I guess my immediate family. I have extended family members in Louisiana that I have a lot of Kappas in my family. I have a lot of AKs in my family, and they’re all in Louisiana. A lot of them went to Southern, but I guess I live in California. Just being able for my children and my grandchildren to continue on, maybe something that I’ve started as far as being a part of Greek life and DI organizations, that would be amazing. But yeah, I’m definitely going to put on my daughters to Greek life.

Melyssa Barrett:  Fantastic. I love it. Well keep doing the work that you’re doing. I love all of the leadership that you all provide, the tradition that you’re creating and the impact that you’re having, our community, certainly locally and nationally and abroad. So thank you so much, Dominic, for all that you do. And thank you to all the Iota five theta frat brothers. I think what you all do is amazing. Whether you are the last of the D nine or whether you are the first, it takes all of us to impact our community. So thank you for all you do.

Dominic Honoré:  Yes, ma’am. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.Melyssa Barrett:  Thanks for joining me on the Jali Podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.