continued (find part II here)
3. Now let me say briefly that we must reaffirm our commitment to non-violence.
In context, Dr. King was speaking of rioting in protest, or violence against any perceived oppressor, but times have changed. Violence is prevalent in most African American communities and in many cases is on the rise. Watch any documentary or news broadcast, pour over the statistics, they will give you the same justification for violence: single parent homes, incarcerated fathers, poverty, lack of education, drugs gangs, etc. These things may all contribute to the violence, but as in the case of economic power, we possess the power to set the disproportionate violence in our communities’ right. Our approach must be organized and must be more than a symbolic march through the community. Dr. King points to the starting point of taking action: Love. He says in his speech: Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love. To combat violence on the streets, we have to start in our own homes with those that are closest to us and we love the most: our children.
Our children, especially our boys, cannot be raised in the streets. We have to take pride in ourselves and allow that example to shine brighter than the “hood” images that are glorified in music, on TV, and on the street corners of most urban communities. There are a number of simple ways to do this. Most of the options are free and take little effort to do:
• If there is no male figure in the home, seek out a stable male family member or friend as an example or mentor to your children.
• Get your children out of the negative environment as much as possible. Expose them to the arts outside of the “hip-hop” genre. You may be surprised how much they (and you) enjoy it.
• Engage them in discussion about the celebrities they look up to and emulate. Talk to them about the positives and negatives within their community. You may be surprised by what they tell you!
• Get them involved in community service. Doing for someone else is a great way to instill a sense of pride in community and self.
• Discipline your child when they step out of line. Don’t be afraid to turn a backside a new shade of red when the occasion calls. There are those who will tell you not to strike your child because it only teaches them violence. Newsflash: Many of those who are engaged in violence on the streets did not get spanked! Don’t be afraid to take away technology and other privileges. (You used your discretionary funds to purchase a cell phone, DS, or PSP. That means you need to use your discretion and take it back for behavior modification purposes!
• Teach them how to dress to impress. Boys need to pull up their pants and girls need to cover all over-exposed body parts. Remind your children that people will treat them they way they look. If they want to be treated with respect, start with their outward presentation.
So to the gentleman who asked, “Is there going to be some definitive strategy and planning or a bunch of talk about our “glorious” past?” on Dr. West’s post: The question was answered 43 years ago. The power to help improve the lives of fellow African Americans has always been in your hands. What will YOU do with that power?