We are in the middle of local elections and my thoughts turn to the days when preachers, barbers and funeral directors were the community leaders because “the man” couldn’t quiet them since their money came for us. Today, retirees should be added to that list because those on pensions are free to speak their minds and have plenty of free time to do it.
A friend from high school who is a vocal leader of the Tea Party Movement gave me the Beatles greatest hits cd a few years ago. While listening to the lads sing “get back to where you once belonged” the other day, I thought about getting back to what my community was the 60s and before the mean-spirited approach of the ultra conservatives.
My community before the 1970s was a place of proud, deliberate people. While we need the federal government to enforce basic human rights and to end Jim Crow, the well-intended assistance of the government when from temporary help to something debilitating. The next crop of leaders, whose who come after the “I marched with MLK” ones, should be more life coaches than cheerleading politicians. After elected leaders ensure that essential governmental services are functioning, they should get about the business of explaining to the people what the people should do to help themselves. It starts with personal responsibility because “the man” and the Klan aren’t damaging my block as much as the people in the mirror.
Stats in the Albany Georgia newspaper blew me away the other day. The president of the local technical college says that only 62% of people in my region are functionally literate. Huh? We spend millions on schools and teachers’ salaries but the folks can’t read. Wait a dam minute! We aren’t talking about advance subjects from high school like trig, chemistry and Lit. We are talking about reading, writing and arithmetic; stuff that was supposed to be taught in the first few grades. Of course, educators will say that home isn’t supporting the learning process and I agree on some level. Once and for all: you can’t be the parents of K-12 kids speaking poor English around them all day. Double negatives, ending sentences with prepositions and leaving the “g” off of “ing” are simply the tip of the iceberg.
The governor should fund a program I designed while working with a welfare to work project. The program refreshed grammar skills for adults in a few days because education is a lifelong endeavor. Oh, there is no money for such programs but get ready for the second alarming statistic. The new head of the Georgia department of juvenile justice says that a youth offender cost the state $91,000 a year. What the blank! We are spending money on the wrong people at the wrong times.
I took my nieces to a Black college football game last week. One of the girls is a high school cheerleader who doesn’t understand football. Let me get this right: you are cheering for an activity you don’t understand. By the end of the game, she understood first downs, passing, rushing and the fundamentals of the sport. We have all attended games when the cheer was “defense” while we had the ball.
Some of these elected officials are like those confused cheerleaders; they are cheering without fully understanding the situation and goals. To me, President Obama never had a stomach for the older members of the Congressional Black Caucus for this reason. If conservatives spent time getting to know Obama rather than tripping about Kenya, they would have learned that his conservative roots are in the Midwest. Obama is a moderate with equal distain for the far left and the far right but most importantly, he feels that leaders should tell the people that change begins with them.
So, local elections should be the selection of those who would help Barrack Obama, Jon Huntsman, Colin Powell and Cory Booker turn the nation around with positive energy. You hear the saying “speak truth to power” use frequently these days. Well, the people are the power and someone need to tell them the truth about why their situation isn’t what it should be and what can be done to address it—again, the mirror.
Since football and cheering are themes in this blog post, I want to end with them. If you can sit in a stadium for hours watching football, you can take ten minutes to go vote—vote for whomever but vote.