View From Here …
Amiri Baraka, Dr. Vincent Harding, Elombe Brath, Chuck Stone, William Worthy and now Dr. Maya Angelou; we’re losing poets, historians and truth-revealing journalists and their loss emphasizes why African-Americans must regain control of our children’s education. It is in the learning of the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic that culture is passed to the next generation and self-worth and self-confidence are instilled and built upon. This is our job. And I do not wish to sound unkind, but the curriculum and the teaching cannot be left to other cultures to create and instruct, despite their well-meaning. The teaching cannot be left to “reality shows”, MTV or knuckleheads on the street talking about living the “thug life” and bragging about how many kids they have.
It is being left to us to pick up these fallen banners and work in church basements, in our homes and in organizations to uplift the community. This means we cannot allow business as usual to be the city spending less than 1% with certified African-American vendors. Politicians cannot lead the way to self-sufficiency by taking campaign donations from Black people, multiplying it by five with tax dollars and then turn around and give the money to white consultants to go and tell Black people to vote for them because they have the community’s best interests at heart.
Everyone has to work at this and all hands have to be on deck. Organizations forged out of the struggle of African-Americans with the mission of raising up the community have to look at spending their treasure with non-African-American vendors at non-African-American venues and then only investing what’s left in the community they were created to serve.
African-American Buying Power is projected to be $1.1 trillion by 2015, and it begs the question: Why are so many living in poverty and standing on the corner with no jobs? John Henrik Clarke said he was one of those who felt we lost more with integration than we gained, lost black businesses and control of education. If only a meaningful portion of those dollars were traded in our community at corner stores buying goods that we manufacture. A good example to follow is as close as the Hasidim in Williamsburg, where even the breath mints they sell have their imprimatur on their packaging. This requires a collective self-discipline of mutual support and faith in each other. And that brings us back to the education we have and how reading, writing, arithmetic and history are taught. Each element is inextricably interconnected with the other: education, personal spending and business building.
The good news is that we are already seeing the kind of work that has to be done being done here in Bedford-Stuyvesant by active members of the community coming together right here at Chauncey Street and Malcolm X Blvd. to support and enrich the lives of their neighbors and step-by-step helping to open a world of opportunity for their children. There is more to be done and we are up to the task and the collective wisdom we are losing every day can be reborn and built upon to take us into the future.