Black life in America has bought with it many struggles and hurdles that many people, who are not a minority, may not understand. For the Black man and woman, it has been a series of choices, and making the best choice for the situation at hand. Sometimes the choices were not easy and may have had devastating consequences. Consequences felt for generation after generation.
This series of articles are being written to provoke dialogue and stimulate thought, and provide a mirror into what we now view as African American Life. Hopefully minds will be awaken, hearts stirred, and streams of consciousness will be opened to see things from various perspectives--through different lenses--and inspiration will come to inspire action about what is presently around us. Prayerfully, we as a people, can truly embrace and adopt that we are in fact our brothers keeper.
For years now, it seems that schools in America have taken a step backward. Due in large part to the dichotomy of the classes, we seem to be back where we started in 1954. Schools are vastly segregated once again. You can go into a number of Black communities and find schools that are 80% African American, 15% Hispanic, 4% Caucasian, and 1% Native American. In some circumstances, you can leave out the Caucasian and Native American percentages altogether.
It’s not only our schools, but as well as our neighborhoods that appear to be segregated once again. What happened? How did this happen? You are encouraged to take a look at the Report Cards of the schools in your community. It is available online. One is able to see how well or how poorly schools are doing in their community. It is also encouraged to take a look at the curriculum and compare it to that of more affluent neighborhoods. Take a tour of the schools in the Black communities, then those of communities that are predominately White. Make a note of the differences and similarities that you see. Which outweighs the other? These are the things that we--as a community--need and should be looking at. How educated is your child? Better yet, how educated are the teachers teaching your children? Do they know how to reach them? Do they know and realize that in many Black and Hispanic communities that there is a different way of communicating? It does not mean that our children are dumb or lazy--they just have a different way of learning and have had different experiences.
In no means does this mean for teachers to dumb-down, or to suggest that the students in the Black communities are incapable of learning, or have too difficult a time. However, as teachers, one must be able to reach their students that is both beneficial to the student and the school. There are no excuses for cutting corners or treating students as though they have no future or intelligence. Being able to reach a student helps that young person to understand, and be aware of what is available to them. Teachers should promote, lead, inspire and nurture, allowing their students to grow and understand who they are, and the possibilities afforded them by receiving a top-notch education.
As parents, there should be much more involvement in the curriculum, the condition of the school, present test scores, and the teachers that are teaching one’s children. There needs to be a collaborative initiative on both parents and schools to help bring a balance in what is being taught and the tools available to all schools. Not just the school district that have the most money. Pushing a child along in school just to promote them is a major disservice not only to the students, but the school, teachers and the community.
Education is a foundation that begins with the parents. Children respond more to action, rather than what is being said. If a parent does not hold much regard for a solid education, then the child more than likely will not either. There must be a thirst and hunger for knowledge; a desire to know more and achieve more. Parents must begin to fight for their children’s proper education, and remind them of the struggles and sacrifices that afforded them the opportunity to go to school. Involvement of parents, students, and teachers are encouraged. As well as, breaking down the invisible barriers that continue to segregate the school system by classes and the color of ones skin.
Housing in America has taken on a new definition. In the real estate market, the prices have been plummeting as the interest rates have been soaring. Yet, there are new developments being built, while old neighborhoods are becoming ghost towns--a former shell of what it used to be. 70 % of people are said to be losing their home. Currently, there are over one million homes that are in foreclosure. Elderly people are declaring bankruptcy at a higher rate than any other time in American history. There are more housing projects that are being demolished or being brought by private developers, causing people to have to relocate and find different and affordable housing--which is proving to be a difficult task. Many are not just facing racial discrimination, but class discrimination as well.
In 1968, the Fair Housing Act was enacted. This law prohibits discrimination based upon race or color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability by direct providers of housing, such as landlords and real estate companies as well as other entities, including, banks or other lending institutions and homeowners insurance companies, who try to make housing unavailable.
Yet, some thirty years later we are still facing discrimination in the area of housing. Every neighborhood is not created equal. There are many communities that feel they have been abandoned, forgotten, with dilapidated buildings and going out of business signs adorning many buildings.
Where we live does have an impact on how we live and what we believe. Sometimes it is hard to see past a where one is. It is hard to see past a current situation or the possibility of something better. The saying is often said that “home is where the heart is”. At times, situations and circumstances have cultivated a mindset that reached across generations. There is a difference in the mindsets of people who have made it and those who do not make it. Where one comes from can say a lot about who they are why they do what they do. We are affected by the things around us, and sometimes we have to fight to break the barriers that have been placed around us, and to change what we can only see with our natural eyes.
Next week: Housing concluded, and a look at Employment…