This is a question that many people within the Black community ask our leaders. The problem that some of us Black folk have, is that we expect an overnight turn around when it comes to the problems that plague our community. No politician or said “leader” will make any change that will completely mitigate the issues we have. The onus has unfortunately been placed on our athletes and billionaires, because they hold a high amount of capital that many Blacks beneath them don’t have. For this favored group, many of us will argue about what one has done for our community. The question that always gets tossed around whenever we get mad at each other is ultimately “What have you done for the Black community?”
Solution #1: Education
When I say education, I don’t solely mean schools. I am talking about self-improvement by all means. Challenging yourself to read daily about something that may enhance your life or give you a different perspective. Despite being a trash truck driver working 12-14 hours a day, I read as much as I possibly can. There are audiobooks that you can listen to if you are busy at work all day or traveling to school via public transportation. E-books are really awesome to me, because you can highlight important parts of the book and visual reading has a way of gluing information to your brain. Even if you could on focus on one book a month, that is way better than none. Reading exercises the brain, and gives you more context of the subject matter you choose to study. By improving your mind, you inadvertently improve your vocabulary in conversations without even recognizing it. I have denounced religion because of books, and figured out who I truly was as a man by reading. For you, it may bring you closer to your spiritual deity. The more that your mind improves, it improves the family members that interact with you on a daily basis.
Without proper knowledge, you will be bamboozled by politicians, outwitted by sleazy salesmen, and jumping into situations without proper perspective. Back in slavery we had laws that prohibited slaves from reading. Couple centuries down the line, and you have a lot of brothers and sistas who refuse to pick up a book other than Steve Harvey’s dating book, or something trivial. In order to improve education for our children, we have to improve our own personal education. You don’t have to enroll at your local city college (which I recommend you doing, if you have the time and ambition to do) to get education. You can get free books at a library with a library card. I don’t care if you have a grown son/daughter living with you, or a toddler, reading should be essential in your house if you are black. It’s never too late to learn something new. We as blacks have been told that if you go to college, then everything will be awesome. Statistics are coming out that degrees don’t equal jobs. Go to school if you are pursuing a passion that will yield a positive return of investment. We live in an economy where you have Ph.D students working as baristas, and journalism majors struggling to make it in the industries they were amorous about. College is not for every kid, some kids are smart, but would be more useful inside of a trade school to apply that genius to a technical skill. I want my child to go to college like the next person, but I have my reservations on forcing my child to pick a college major to impress my friends/family. I would rather my child find a passion and pursue it. No degree will let me compromise my child’s future over selfish ambition. To read further on this topic, check out this book by Will Bennett:
To advance within the dominant society, we need proper guidance into how economics work. If you have no basic understanding of economics and how money works, you will be misled by many assumptions without concrete evidence. I want reparations for slavery on behalf of my African ancestors, but if im spending that money on European luxury instead of black businesses, what is the point. One of the best books I have read on economics that breaks down complex economics in layman terms, check out this book:
You as a Black person should know the basic fundamentals of money. You don’t have to sign up for some expensive course online. I found a book written by Jason Kelly at my local library, it was the world’s simplest book on finance tips. You can even find this book on eBay for dirt cheap as a used book.
If you only read these two books and nothing else, these two books will lead you in the right direction in current time.
As far as history goes, it is up to you what you wish to read. The greatest black person to ever live, in my honest opinion, can be no one other than Harriet Tubman. She put it down so hard for black people back in the day, she even was rumored to carry a pistol. Treason was not going to be an option if you rolled with “Minty”. I have read my history, therefore my child will be schooled on history, and how it repeats itself in different forms. Read Malcolm X in his prime, and the relevance of an old Harlem speech will send chills down your spine. It is almost like you are conjuring dead spirits that speak directly to you. You will see the contrast of groups led by Martin Luther King Jr., compared with today’s so called leaders.
Last but not least, we have to be more accountable for family members or friends that are incarcerated. We need to send them letters of encouragement, commissary money on birthdays and holidays. I know you may say that “If you did the crime, you do the time”, but it is far too many Black men in the system for us to turn our backs on them. I would suggest finding the prison wherever the family member or friend is located and research programs that they could sign up for. There ARE accredited programs that are financed by the state that inmates could participate in, depending on where you live and the facility where the inmate is detained, where many of them don’t know about the programs to be taken advantage of. A lot of the programs are trades. Print out this information and mail it to the inmate to let them know what their detention center offers. I have a cousin that I mailed over 20 books to. Books about business and fitness, magazine subscriptions, how to start a small business and write a business plan. So that way, when he/she gets out of prison, he knows how to write a business plan for the trade he/she learned behind bars. The reason it is important to provide facts on the obstacles facing him/her, is to cut down on jail recidivism. I let my relative know the obstacles facing him and send books about former convicts who found a way out of the system. If you can’t stand writing to a person, than at least send a book, or print an article. You never know what impact it may have.
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