I use to hear my mother tell stories about the role and leadership of pastors in the African American communities. Back in those days it was more grass roots activism and people were able to see exactly what their church leaders were advocating in the community.
Today many in the African American community are seeing the affluence’s and accomplishments of black leaders on a national level through mass media and social media but my question is do we still have leadership on the local level? If so has it changed with the times and evolving with the media and modes of communication we have today.
Personally, I do believe that there are a lot of African American leaders on the community level. They are in our city councils, they are business leaders, and they are in our churches. Still, with the growth and dynamics of leadership in the African American communities and the growth in affluence’s of blacks and Hispanics why is there such a big disconnect for youths that are gravitating toward crime?
The largest growing populations in our prisons are blacks and Hispanics. They are being incarcerated the most and the longest. The privatization of the prison industry has led to an increase in the amount of our younger generation being locked up. Some have argued that putting the profit motive into the prison industry has created a large lobbying agenda that calls for tougher penalties.
Getting back to leadership, do we need to get back to the basics where we had more physical community interaction or is it being replaced on the cyber level. I was at a conference not too long ago and one of the speakers made the statement that social media builds fans and not relationships. How can we get back to the place where communities have a relationship with their leaders? How can we get to the place where we can encourage people to want that relationship with their leaders?
One problem I see and I am not blaming those that do it, is the migration of blacks out of the community when we make it. I say we because I have done it. When it was just my wife and I we lived in the community but after having kids and wanting a more positive exposure for them we moved. The most concerning thing for me was the sound of gun shots and not knowing where the bullets would land. How do we continue to connect with the community when it is no longer part of our community?
Many blacks speak of the African American community in the proverbial sense because we are not even in that community anymore. Still, one thing I can say from conversations with people I know is even though we do not live there anymore we still have a strong connection to the community because that is where our values were fostered. Still, as our children grow up in the melting pot (which is good) what will be their connection to the community as they grow up to be leaders?
The cusp of this entire blog is, how do we provide the leadership and connection that reduce crime and create more middle class African Americans? As more and more young men and women gravitate to a culture of me, mine, bling, and the wrong understanding of what respect is how do we reach them? If you know of any successful programs or organizations out there contact us and tell us about them.