In almost every region of the United States, African-American, Latino and Native American children face far greater barriers to their future success than their white and Asian counterparts, according to the study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which aims to improve the life of all children. Read the full report here - http://bit.ly/RaceForResults.
What should be understood is that "children who cannot overcome barriers become adults who cannot overcome barriers." Every resource in the African American community must be mobilized to address this issue. African American community leaders, Political leaders, and Faith leaders should consider this report, and others like it, a crisis worthy of our top priority. If we don't begin to reverse the trends of the past 20 years, this generation won't have the capacity to improve the future for generations to follow. The danger of inaction cannot be overstated.
There is also something each one of us can do. We do not need to wait for policy decisions from the government. Another government program is not going to provide a magic answer. In a real crisis, only individuals who take decisive actions survive. Those who wait for others to act are more likely to perish.
The twelve measures of well-being in this report provide a good frame of reference for factors each of us can address.
Here are my recommendations:
- As individuals, we must adopt tactics of "each one teach one." Stop thinking about saving all of us. Focus on saving one child you love dearly. And measure the result of your effort. There is no reward for simply trying and giving up when the going gets tough. Look one African American child in the face every day and make a commitment to improve his or her life. If you have the capacity to help more, great. But start with one.
- Quit complaining about what isn't being done, and "just do it." There are already many programs that address the issues our children face. Don't reinvent the wheel, or complain that the wheel is turning too slowly. Use the resources of a program that match the contribution you can make. If it is reading, join a reading program. If it is math, become an after-school tutor. If it is mentoring, join a mentoring program. Inaction is unacceptable.
- Avoid escapism, excuse making, and blaming others.Don't hide in your safe suburban neighborhood, and blame "others" for their situation. Take the time to reach out and help a deserving child. Yes, there is a lot others "ought to do" to change the systemic barriers that we all fight every day. Our children don't have the key resource they need -- YOU!
The crisis of declining outcomes for African American children is real. There is no need for debate. Now is the time for increased action. Whatever we are doing, we need to do more in our own self-interests. We need to make our neighborhoods safe; we need to improve our local community schools; we need to support local Black entrepreneurs to create jobs; we need to leverage our votes for more effective political action. We need to save our own children. We cannot ask others to do it for us.
Our journey as Africans in America has been long and a constant struggle for freedom, dignity, and self-determination. The future will be no different. The struggle continues.
We must share ideas and success stories that make a difference. Please share with us what you are doing in your community.
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Roger Madison, CEO