Straight from the Mike…For Whom the Bell Tolls, for Me or for Thee
Let me start by proclaiming as viscerally as I can, my long-felt respect, admiration, and support for one of the premier, significant, and, action-centered civil rights organizations of our time. The organization, which I refer to, is none other than the National Urban League. It has been led by giants, such as Whitney Young, John Jacob, Vernon Jordan, and, currently, Ernest Morial. They brought it forward to its position today as a stalwart and watchdog over social mainstream issues in our communities of color throughout our nation.
Since 2005, the Urban League has consistently published its Report on the State of Black America. The most recent report was just released here in Atlanta last week. I want to cut right to the chase. Yes, it was interesting, as it always has been. I just found it sobering, concerning, and a bell ringing call to action.
Highlights of the report are as follows:
· Institutional racial disparity seems to be built into American society
· Life expectancy for blacks is declining
· Maternal morbidity for black mothers continues to be a challenge
· Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer
· Black men are more likely to die from prostate cancer
· Black people are more likely to be jailed if arrested and more likely to be victims of hate crimes
· Schools with more minority students are more likely to have inexperienced, less trained, and qualified teachers
It is critically important that we take a moment and address some key points put forth in the report for the community to put on its table for digestion and ingestion. No, I am not going to attempt to address every item it covered. However, I do want to press on some major points that jumped out at me. No, it was not the economic disparity. It has been known for a while, the gap is widening. Moreover, it was concerning to highlight the fact that the black family continues to face the ‘high hurdles’ to homeownership or even in attaining home improvement loans when compared to white families.
The solution to the ominous clouds overhead does not rest in a broad-brush swing at institutional racism or systemic racism. Nor does it lie in the claim of voter suppression. Memory serves me to recall seeing numbers that clearly suggest black voter turnout has been at a higher rate than other racial and ethnic groups. It is readily becoming apparent to me that oftentimes, it is more about whom you vote for versus just the voting period. We need to ask the big question, are you being served?
It is especially up to us to remind our young folks that the hourglass can be inverted. The bells of opportunity really ring now, louder than ever before for the future of young students, young professionals, young families, and, frankly, citizens of any age that desire independence, self-determination and fulfillment. There are seeds to be planted and a harvest to be reaped if you are willing to put your stake in the ground.
It seems to me, now is the ideal time for what appears to be on the horizon, a paradigm shift from the traditional ‘go along to get along’ pattern or rut resulting in stagnation and forming the basis for the ‘grim’ outlook put for in the Urban League’s report.
Perhaps the time has finally come to pay attention to the hue and cry for discussion of school choice and financial literacy in our schools versus the nebulous outcomes of CRT and continually propping up failing schools.
Perhaps the time has come to stop seeing judges who continually run unopposed. Perhaps it’s time to see judicial candidates elevated to a higher slot on the program of candidate forums instead of, oftentimes, bringing up the rear of the program. The evening has run long and the gas of retention is almost gone for those remaining in attendance.
Perhaps the time has come to no longer accept or continue to vote for representatives that you hear from only at election time or have not even bothered to host an active town hall meeting, even since the post-pandemic period.
I would have been much more pleased if a more robust list of solutions were put forth to project a positive path forward. Simply put, it goes well beyond the voter suppression mantra that is being proffered.
Finally, I would like to think I am doing my part. Currently. I am president of the board of STING, Inc. We just guided a busload of aspiring college-bound students on a college tour starting in Washington, DC. It included visits to colleges and universities like Howard, George Washington, Hampton, Old Dominion, Bennett, Johnson C. Smith, and Clemson. Our students need to know that the bell of opportunity and freedom rings for them. The carillon sound can be just the tone, along with the combination of hope and ambition, to open doors available for anyone willing to turn the doorknob, you should find it unlocked.