Reflections on Race: African American Challenges — Voices from the local Black community contemplate the primary challenges facing African Americans and how best to address them.
African Americans are and have been contributors to America and to the world from the past to the present. African Americans are and have been architects, artists, athletes, bankers, builders, barbers, chemists, chefs, doctors, engineers, entertainers, farmers, governors, hair stylists, historians, inventors, judges, journalists, lawyers and laborers. They are ministers, military service members, musicians, maids, nurses, optometrists, painters, photographers, reporters, social workers and scientists. They are also teachers, upholsterers, veterans, veterinarians, welders, writers, x-ray technicians, zoologists and work in so many more trades, occupations, jobs, and careers. Every aspect of life in America is much better because of the talents, the work, the creativity and the culture of Black people. The attributes of African Americans are too numerous to list here or to discuss in just a few words.
Despite all that Black people have done to make the world a better place, the problems that were a constant plague centuries ago continue to exist today. Violence, crime, illegal drug use, high unemployment, low wages, high-school drop outs, racial profiling, an unfair justice system, stereotyping, sexism, discrimination, racism, prejudices, senseless killing and just plain hate seem to grow more each day.
Although these conditions exist, African Americans can be the solution to many of the problems through strong and involved parenting, investing in the children and in the community, uniting the community by taking an active role in churches, schools and businesses and being the best mentors and role models for their children. African Americans also have the power of the vote, the power of the voice and the power to become leaders in the community, in the nation and in the world. African Americans have the power to make the best choices for their lives and the lives of others by using their talents in a positive way to create a safe and productive environment.
African Americans should avoid the jail cells and prisons and reach out to help others who may have had such unfortunate experiences. They should continue to work toward economic independence and stability.
Today, the continued and advanced use of technology allows for capturing the good, the bad and the ugly behaviors of people and events. Using the technology as a record of the recurring events may help solve many of the problems and the incidents that occur with Black people. Cameras are the newest companions in the lives of African Americans — and they are everywhere. When problematic and severe incidents occur, African Americans should stand up, speak out and unite against the treacherous events that harm families and neighborhoods.
About Reflections on Race
Black history is unfortunately not always recognized as American history — even today as it was in 1915 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson, hailed as the Father of Black History, and others brought his “brainchild” to life.
If you ever wondered how Black History Month originated, you need go no further than the founding group’s website asalh.org. It stands for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
In its own history, focusing on Dr. Carter, the association notes: “During the dawning decades of the twentieth century, it was commonly presumed that black people had little history besides the subjugation of slavery. Today, it is clear that blacks have significantly impacted the development of the social, political, and economic structures of the United States and the world.”
The association chose as this year’s Black History Month theme: The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.
Our guest columns for Reflections of Race will help to secure the foundation of the Black family by identifying challenges and issues facing the African American race. We asked our guest columnists to comment from a local or national viewpoint, and offer solutions along the way. And they did just that.
— Ruth Foote, collection editor
Finally, African Americans should seek the wisdom of the elders. Many elders have traveled roads and survived hardships and are living representatives of history’s trials, tribulations and triumphs. It is difficult to choose one issue to discuss when it comes to those affecting African Americans. The issues that are present today have never been completely resolved and continue to be problematic from one generation to the next one. In an ideal world, all people and cultures would respect the lives and cultures of the other. The differences would be accepted and appreciated.
African Americans are resilient people and know that success and victory are part of the legacy received from their ancestors. The issues may continue to exist, but African Americans must take an active part in solving what will live on with families, with friends, with neighbors, and with the community until the system is dissolved.