The Broken Mantle
|synonyms:||role, burden, onus, duty, responsibility
“the mantle of leadership”
Going into the 10th week of the Founders Institute, getting close to graduation I have been feeling a great deal of accomplishment. But I sit here today reading about another black life taken away and am swept away by so many emotions. These deaths are happening so often that it’s becoming numbing. We have a problem in this country that won’t go away with protests against the police or calls to action of to our community or church leaders. We have a problem with education.
On a daily basis we allow the imaging and branding of our race and culture to be defined by others. We stand by as we are branded as thugs, drug dealers, murderers. We condemn the achievement culture of other races as “Square” and forget that less than a generation ago we shared the same values. Instead we keep losing pace in the worldwide community and are left trying to get jobs and opportunities from the “Squares” that we now shun.
There is a historical context to all of this. The downward trajectory of our race was firmly established by social and fiscal policies that have hampered our growth as a race. The combination of Racial Integration and Red-lining, a discriminatory practice by which banks, insurance companies, etc., refuse or limit loans, mortgages, insurance, etc., within specific geographic areas, especially inner-city neighborhoods.
How these two policies worked is that Red-lining prevented middle class and above black families from moving to affluent neighborhoods, keeping black families in “Ghettos”. These neighborhoods had a lower tax revenue base which resulted in poorer school districts and a declining quality of education.
Then we layer on School de-segregation which resulted in a talent drain from our communities. Our brightest student were bused to white school districts and assimilated into another culture. The Kids we lost we never got back, creating a vicious cycle with results that we are seeing today. Integration shifted our perspective on advancement.
Cities like Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma or Rosewood in Florida existed because we had a desire to elevate ourselves. Integration taught us to pick and choose within our families who would “Make it” and who wouldn’t. We developed concepts like “The smart one in the family” when historically no one in the family was exempted from the struggle of excellence.
Abdicating the responsibility of educating ourselves is the greatest failure of our community. Until we reclaim that responsibility, we will be defined by others. Our upward mobility will be defined and limited by others. Our ability to come together and create change will be defined by others. We have to stop being consumed with getting money and rampant consumerism. We need to get educated, shift our focus to legacy building. The gold rush of the 21st century is information. We won’t be able to sing, dance, or dribble our way to influence in this country. Without influence we won’t be able to control and change the narrative attached to our race. I am an advocate for technical education because it is our future for better or for worse. It’s time for us to reclaim our mantle.