So...What Now? (9 Ways to Make Change and Make It Last)
Updated: Jun 24
What do we do next? We've protested, posted our passions on social media and marched. That's great! So where do we go from here?
Now that some of the protests and marches are dying down, is anybody else starting to hear opinions about how to "fix" the Black community? I am and it's making my blood boil! Here's why. There is nothing "wrong" with the black community. I reject that notion on its face. I reject the premise for three reasons:
First, there is nothing wrong with the Black community that isn't wrong with other communities. We all have issues. Talking about fixing just us is condescending. It's paternalistic. It's based in supremacy. Sure there are things that need to be improved within many of our communities just like with all others. I don't deny that. But to look at the aftermath of civil unrest from the place of everybody needing to "fix" us? Nah... just nah.
Second, the term "Black community" itself is a bit of a misnomer because Black people are not a monolith. If you listen to the media, you'd think I was sitting here with a needle hanging out of my left arm as I type with my right hand on my phone right now. We are not all poor. We are not all urban. We are not all whatever label you want to apply.
We are not all urban. We are not all whatever label you want to apply. The only thing we are all is tired, frustrated and pained. That's because America doesn't allow any of us to insulate ourselves from the systems that trouble.
The only thing we are all is tired, frustrated and pained. That's because America doesn't allow any of us to insulate ourselves from the systems that trouble. Black people are vibrant, diverse and in every part of the fabric of this nation.
The third reason I reject the idea that the Black community somehow needs to be fixed is the most neglected but most important in my view. I would say that we are doing damned good for a people who have been routinely and legally shut out of most parts of the American dream until about fifty years ago!
Bottom line is this country established systems that legally extracted wealth from black people for centuries. Enslavement began on this continent in 1619. Several laws didn't even begin to change substantially until the 60's and 70's. Many of these oppressive systems are still in place. The trauma is not small. It doesn't go away overnight. Therefore, if you look at the loss, the theft, the death and trauma we've been through historically, we are doing damned good!
...if you look at the loss, the theft, the death and trauma black people have been through historically, we are doing damned good!
So, no. I'm not hearing people who talk about "fixing" the Black community. The only thing I'm interested in is IMPROVING and ENRICHING the Black experience in America.
So how do we do that? What do we do next? We've protested, posted our passions on social media and marched. So where do we go from here? All I can tell you is what we, my wife and I, are going to do and invite you to come along. When talking about wealth and income disparity, the less endowed often fall back on complaining - and complaining isn't a plan. Here's our game plan:
1. We are going to register to vote and stay registered to vote. And we are going to vote. We aren't going to stop with protests and marches. Those are valuable but they don't complete the work when it comes to making our voice heard. Are you registered? Have you voted? Please mark election day on your calendar RIGHT NOW, research the issues and show up!
2. We are going to get involved in local politics. Because "all politics is local" we are going to research our local officials, e-mail them, attend city council meetings. We are going to not only know what's going in our community but we're going to make sure we're change agents, as well. We're going to help candidates we believe in. We are going to run for office. We are no longer content to be ignorant about things going on around us. I can promise you that your city council impacts your life way more than who's President.
3. We are going to volunteer. Taking care of my community is MY job. That work doesn't belong to anyone else and I won't attempt to delegate it.
4. We are going to engage in self-care. Like I said on my Facebook page: "You can’t let yourself be angry, sad, frustrated, despondent and engaged ALL the time.
One of my favorite stories says, according to tradition, when the apostle John was overseer in Ephesus, his hobby was raising pigeons. It is said that on one occasion another elder passed his house as he returned from hunting and saw John playing with one of his birds. The man gently chided him for spending his time so frivolously.
John looked at the hunter’s bow and remarked that the string was loose. “Yes,” said the elder, “I always loosen the string of my bow when it’s not in use. If it stayed tight, it would lose its resilience and fail me in the hunt.”
John responded, “And I am now relaxing the bow of my mind so that I may be better able to shoot the arrows of divine truth.”
Here's another version of that same story about John the Apostle. Take some time to care for yourself. Unplug from the news and social media. Exercise. We need you for the long haul.
5. We are going to invest in personal protection. Certain things we've done. There are a few more left to do. Suffice to say that I am able to protect myself and mine and I'm going to make sure my entire family is comfortable doing the same. I think joining a gun owners club might be on the list, too.
6. We are going to check on our brothers and sisters. We are going to film injustice when we see it to help keep law enforcement accountable. Currently, 38 states allow their citizens to film police. As long as no one interferes with their work. However, the police might still harass or detain you. They might confiscate your camera. Be careful, however. According to this article in The Root, there are twelve states–California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington where citizens can't record police without their permission. In most states you can openly film the police in public.
7. We are going to handle our business. That includes keeping our personal finances in order. We can't be involved the way we need to be or help other people if we're struggling to keep our own heads above water. We are going to buy property and land. I can't stress this point enough. No matter how much you protest, if your money isn't in order you aren't free. You can't push change if you're hungry. How can you help anyone else if you're not prospering? You have to get on the right side of money! If you don't where to start, get a copy of my free e-book, From Broke to Blessed. Get it today!
No matter how much you protest, if your money isn't in order you aren't free.
8. We are going to support black-owned businesses. I have to admit I've not been as intentional to support black business as I could have been over the years. I repent and appreciate the charge from Shawn Rochester in "The Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America" and in several interviews to redirect money to people who look like us and care about us.
9. We are going to help people become anti-racists. What is it to be an anti-racist? Nobody has explained it better than Tyler Burns and Jemar Tisby from the Pass the Mic podcast. An easy definition? Anti-racism is not just being NOT racist, but Anti-racism includes beliefs, actions, movements, and policies adopted or developed to oppose racism. Thanks, Wikipedia. Still. Please check out Jemar and Tyler. They will bless you.
That's what we are going to do. Join us.
When will we see real change and how long does it take? Hard to say. As a nation we've never fully committed to starting the process of empowering all of our citizens, so I'd say my list represents some logical first steps even if we can't see the end. I would think it takes longer than 40-50 years to undo 350+ prior years of legally sanctioned oppression. I want to see the Racial Wealth Gap begin to correct itself dramatically!
Nothing will get fixed by ignoring it. The "get over it" argument is as old as slavery itself. It rests on the fallacy that the cumulative effect of hundreds of years of economic, physical, legal and psychological trauma is small... that you can "get over it" in a few years. Enslavement began on this continent in 1619. Several laws didn't even begin to change substantially until the 60's and 70's. Many of these oppressive systems are still in place. The trauma is not small. It doesn't go away overnight.
Right now, Black people own 2% of the wealth in this country against being roughly 12% of the population. That's too large of a gap to be accounted for by some "personal responsibility" straw man argument. Add to this that Black people have historically been more devout than the average American and were literally killed, hurt and harmed for exercising personal responsibility for decades after slavery ended.
Bottom line this country established systems that legally extracted wealth and it will take massive effort and changes to the systems to fix it. What matters is whether people want this country to live up to its full economic potential or not. Whether the constitution matters or not. Whether justice matters or not. What matters if whether you want your family to be safe. If the constitution, justice and economic prosperity matter, systems need to change. It's not about getting caught up in your feelings. If economic injustice is allowed to persist, this country will never be what it could be.
Want to start creating a different now for you and a different future for your children? Get your free copy of FROM BROKE TO BLESSED here: https://www.markanthonymccray.com/frombroketoblessed
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