If you’ve ever gotten an opportunity to know me or had a chance to read any of my articles, it wouldn’t take you long to find out that I am far from being a sympathizer when it comes to doing the right things for the Black community.
More importantly, you would quickly learn that I strongly believe and have a core conviction about Black people holding ourselves accountable for what happens to us and taking the necessary steps to ensure the Black community has a solid village where young African American children can grow and thrive. It is the job and responsibility to raise the young people in our village without any excuse.
As I am an ongoing student of the history of our people in this country, I take pride in knowing that we have such a rich history and that we have a strong lineage of people who have made tremendous contributions to this world.
Even in spite of the horrendous and barbaric institution of slavery and Jim Crow, which dismantled families and ravaged lives, Black people endured; and as Black people endured those atrocities, their faith in God and their belief in collective support through being a unified people, helped them overcome those travesties and pursue greater opportunities for advancement and progress. They were a village.
There is an African proverb that I believe is more relevant today than ever before. It states, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.”
The basic meaning of this proverb is that raising a child is a community effort and that the responsibility for raising a child is shared with the larger family, where everyone in the family participates, especially the older children, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and even cousins. In Africa, children are considered a blessing from God for the whole community, so it’s not unusual for African children to stay for long periods with their grandparents or aunts or uncles. Even the wider community gets involved, such as neighbors and friends. In essence, this African proverb conveys the African worldview that emphasizes the values of family relationships, parental care, self-sacrifice, concern for others, sharing and hospitality.
Now, I’m usually one of the most vocal when it comes to challenging Black people to work towards improving the communities where we live. I’m usually one of the most passionate when it comes to challenging Black people to not just identify problems they believe are plaguing our communities, but rather address those problems head on and without excuse by providing solutions.
Personally, I’ve chosen to not only see the problems that are within my community, I have challenged myself to do the “heavy lifting” of addressing many of those problems. I have sought to educate, inform and empower Black people, by working with those who have sought to better their lives and want to live in better communities. Now while this isn’t about me, I do feel it important to practice what I preach, while also letting people know that my words aren’t mere rhetoric and aren’t driven by a deep desire to put Black people in check. I know we have issues, but I choose to address them, not just talk about them.
One of the things that the Trayvon Martin case did was shine the light on the disconnect that exists between the races in this country. The Civil Rights Act merely put a Band-Aid on the underlying racial tension that has existed in this country for centuries and it shows that we need to deal with it.
But the first thing the Black community must do is get its collective house in order before we can effectively deal with addressing this racial divide.
It is true that many Black people have a deep level of mistrust and a lack of confidence in law enforcement and in the justice system. Subsequently, many White people that I’ve spoken to can’t relate and don’t seem to understand why we take issue with many of the things we do.
Unemployment is high, especially amongst Black youth and we are challenged with addressing some major issues surrounding crime, murder, homelessness, poverty, education, economics, single-parent homes, disease and many other unsavory issues. However, I don’t believe Black people are content with any of this. As a matter of fact, we are sick of hearing about it. We must get back to having a village-like mindset, if we want to see real change.
It is easy for someone who doesn’t have the same struggles and challenges as others to say what they should or shouldn’t do, but what if you don’t know all the details? It’s like putting a dirty glass against a clean glass.
Everyone doesn’t have the same home structure, foundation and resources as others. How do you effectively monitor and raise your children, 24-7, when you can’t spend that type of time with them? What if parent(s) have to work and can’t be there to ensure kids are in house before sun goes down or to do homework? What if there is no one in the house that relates to the young people to offset what they hear in music and see on TV or to discuss the birds and the bees with them? Where do young people go to get anger management counseling if they really need it? Better yet, what if they don’t even know or believe they have anger issues?
It is my opinion that before we can affect any kind of change, first we need to figure out how to reach our village youth. It may be too late for many of the adults to be a part of this movement, but we must have enough willing and able adults to make it a point to reach as many young people under the age of 25 as possible. I am truly of the belief that Black people are the only cultural group in America who have lost their way and have yet to figure out how to come together in unity; well, unless it isn’t a party, concert, hit song or some sort of social craze or fad.
If we really want to change our communities, we had better start focusing our energy on teaching the children in our village to learn their history and abandon a mentality that leads to nothing but selfishness and limited growth possibility.