The end of a year and the approaching of a new year provide an opportunity for us to reflect on our aspirations for the Black community. When we survey the landscape of our community we recognize the significant progress Blacks have made in our nation since slavery; a phenomenal and remarkable journey of human triumph. Yet, we acknowledge that despite the progress, we have yet to attain full citizenship status and the gains we have won are now threatened.
Surveying our community, the challenges we face are significant but not impossible to overcome. With the proper focus and commitment, we believe change is possible and that incremental progress will lead to a broader expansion of opportunity and gains for Black Americans. We must first be willing to confront issues even when they reveal our own shortcomings and be unafraid to challenge the status quo and conventional wisdom when it is working against our interests.
We encourage the pursuit of peace in our community. It must become unacceptable for our children to be victims of gang violence and households to live under the terror of domestic violence. We must encourage the pursuit of learning and while raising expectations of our children, also hold educators and elected officials accountable for the maintenance of excellent public school systems. Our children must be our priority. The mass imprisonment of Black people, in particular Black males but increasingly Black women, must become unacceptable and we must find ways to embrace the formerly incarcerated who wish to turn their lives around. Given our own history, we must not succumb to finger pointing at new immigrant populations and take a stand against the rising tide of fear mongering directed toward the Islamic community. We must take care of ourselves and pursue healthy lifestyles that will mitigate the onset of chronic illnesses and pave the way to wellness for future generations. Practitioners of all faiths must lead by example and set a moral tone that is not confrontational or accusatory. Our political paradigm must shift from a party-specific framework to the embrace of a broad set of principles that lead to economic empowerment, self-sufficiency and family stability.
Next year will mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. In many ways, it should be a year of celebration for Black Americans. The story of our existence in this nation is one of triumph and a shining example for the world. There is perhaps no other people in the history of humankind that have made such a quantum leap in their development as Blacks have done since first arriving on these shores as a captive people. It is why we have such great hope for our community. Despite the mountain of statistics that suggest we are heading toward social extinction in our country, our history reveals a resiliency and thirst for life that we know can serve as the catalyst for significant change. It will not happen though unless each of us does what we can reasonably do to improve conditions. It will require hard work, courage and sacrifice to rise up against those forces, some within our own community, that are intent on consigning us to a second class existence as Americans.
We should not miss the significance in the celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the beginning of a new year. The late civil rights leader’s life epitomized commitment and an unflinching belief in the spiritual and cultural strength of the Black community, and the untapped potential of Black Americans. It is that progressive outlook that we carry over into 2011. A Luta Continua – The Struggle Continues!