Our country is in a very interesting place; a crossroads if you will. We are still in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, but in addition to that, in reaction to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, protests against systemic racism, police brutality, and social injustice are taking place not only in America, but around the world.
Each of these situations is changing “business as usual” in our society; the likes of which we have never seen and still cannot totally predict. I remain hopeful, and cautiously optimistic that at the very least, what will emerge will be a greater understanding of our connectedness to one another, and the building of a better world.
Each of us must decide what role we are going to play in making that happen. And yes, we all have a role. We all have our own unique set of skills and talents that we can use to contribute to building a better world. I believe that is why we are here.
While the success stories of African-Americans does not lead in mainstream media news, I have noticed through social media platforms that in the midst of everything that is going on, we are still pursuing our goals and dreams, and despite all the roadblocks and obstacles placed in our way, we are succeeding in accomplishing them.
I’ve seen stories of a mother and daughter who both graduated from medical school and are now serving in the same hospital; stories of first generation African- American young people graduating from and being accepted into law, business, medical and technology schools to name a few.
There are stories of African Americans launching businesses of all types, while still engaging in the fight for equal opportunity, social justice, and an end to systemic racism. This speaks to incredible internal fortitude and demonstrates the faith in our ability to be as successful as any other group in whatever we set our minds to.
In the midst of this fight, one thing that we can all do, in spite of the obstacles placed in our way, is make the commitment to being the very best we can be in all we do. This too is a part of the fight for change. It is not
about seeking anyone else’s approval, it is about lifting ourselves, our brothers and sisters, and the rest of humanity to bring about a better world.
Fighting for justice is right! Fighting for positive change is right! Striving to be the best that you can be is right! None of these excludes the other.
The Kwanzaa principle of Kuumba/Creativity states “To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.”
In my role as an instructor and educator, I have recommitted to that principle. While all of us may not be able to get out and join street protests, applying this principle is something we all can do. My challenge to my
brothers and sisters is to take some time to think about what gifts, talents, and skills you have that can contribute to enhancing the lives of others and making your community a better place. I implore you: do not just sit, watch, and talk about what is happening, get up, get out, and start making things happen.
Hollis Nelson is the Training and Technology Director at Greater Paterson OIC