As we grapple with the issues that impact our community, one of the most critical levers of cause and effect, action and reaction, problem creation and problem resolution, is public policy, at all levels – consequently, elections matter – at all levels – local, state, and federal.
It is time…..
That we begin to right the ship that is the destiny of our community;
It is time to work together on the things that we agree upon, that are in the best interests of our community and not get distracted by those areas in which we disagree – but also recognize that there is a truth that even disagreements, when used properly, can lead to a multi-pronged, multi-layered approach to solving complex problems – it simply requires that we ‘play nice in the sandbox’;
It is time to use the tools that our fathers and mothers, our grandfathers and grandmothers, our great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers, struggled and fought so hard to take, the unalienable rights of all free citizens to chart a course for themselves…to realize the fruits of their labor…to pursue happiness; to vote – it is time to recognize that voting is our voice and our voices must be heard;
It is time that we recognize that there are good people and good organizations, across our community, doing good work – but that we tend to be islands….so let us create networks (both visible and below the radar) to join forces and resources, wherever and whenever it makes sense, to build greater capacity and strength towards better outcomes…
It is time that we recognize that we all have a part to play, therefore, each of us, in our own way, must determine the part we can and will play in this struggle…and that if that part be genuine and sincere, that it be respected…
It is time…
That we improve how we address the issues of the un-served and under-served, not in a patronizing way, but in a manner that leads to real improvements in the quality of their lives; that we view the safety-net as it was intended – as a bridge to better times, as a means of strengthening families, in order to strengthen our communities; that we be resolute in using our tax dollars to make the safety net stronger, not weaker; that our tax dollars not be used to further exclude, segregate, or discriminate against us – keeping us from equality, opportunity and justice;
It is time that we not be satisfied with training that does not lead to real jobs, that we not settle for micro loans for our businesses when an infusion of substantive capital is really required; that we not be amazed by low-impact dollars that are invested when nearing an election; that we not be pacified by window-dressed, smoke and mirrored, short-lived, ‘great sounding’ surface gestures that are so much cotton candy – piled high and sweet, but ultimately fluff with little lasting substance. We should not accept this from any elected official, especially some of our black elected officials, who con us instead of representing us;
It is time that we understand that a rising tide does not necessarily lift all boats, if some boats are weighed down by the anchors of racism, sexism, classism and other barriers real or imagined…..so that it is ok to empathize with those that are slower to move on opportunity or that are stubborn in their unpreparedness…anchors are, by their very nature, hard to move – therefore it is time that we not give up on portions of our community that require extra effort, more resources, a bit more time to ‘get it’, that result in smaller margins of return on the investment – (corollary: the investment in human capitol must be measured differently…);
It is time to make things happen for people within our community who may not appreciate the effort, but are no less deserving;
It is time…
For the ‘monied class’, those with true access to capital, those with true discretionary funds, to use said capital and said discretionary funds as a catalyst for jump-starting a resurgence of our business sector, our education sector, our activist sector, our ‘leadership sector’….;
It is time for the ‘usual suspects’, those that are chosen (from the small pool of the chosen few) to use their positions on the boards where they are allowed to serve, in service to their community….but let us also recognize that it is time to force the expansion of that pool to ensure that as they serve the interests of their appointers, they also serve the interests of their community;
It is time that we recognize that others can afford to wallow in a ‘me-only, to the detriment of everybody else’ way of living, but that it is a death knell for a people attempting to make real and substantive change happen for the many… that sacrifice, if focused and strategic, is indeed noble…and oftimes needed;
It is time that those who profess to represent us, profess to lead us, but know (or do not know or care) that they are truly ineffective, are shown ‘the door’, and are replaced with a new courageous leadership;
It is time that we listen to our youth, while respecting the experiences of our elders and clear a path for that next generation of leaders…a new form of leadership…and that we identify, and nurture, and support, position and protect this new leadership;
It is also time for us to give those that are on the inside, ‘room to breathe’…however, they must ‘breathe with a sense of urgency’ in using their influence and decision making responsibilities, responsibly;
It is time…
That those within our communities that are un-served and under-served, respect those in our community who are successful, recognizing the struggles and challenges they over came to achieve their success;
And that those within our community that are successful, share their knowledge and insights so that we may significantly expand the pool of success; that they also recognize that they did not build their success on their own (we have all required a measure of assistance and a bit of luck), regardless of the latest memes propagandized by the powers that be to keep us divided and apart;
It is time that we acknowledge that (a) for some the need to make a dollar will cause them to work against the interests of their community – it is a reality that some will lose their way and that for others, individual interests can and do come in conflict with the interests of the many –
But that we also recognize that when the powers that be say ‘you are different, you are not like the others’, that it is code for ‘I do not like nor respect your community…’ – remember that the community is also you; which leads to, (b) understanding that you can be successful in this nation’s corporations or legislatures or wherever, while also benefiting and being true to your community and adhering to your principles – it just takes a little courage and a smart strategy to out-strategize those that try to convince us that ‘making it’ is an either-or proposition;
It is time for our community to have fewer of (a) and much more of (b);
It is time…
That we not be embarrassed by the actions of some in our community; falling prey to viewing ourselves as the media would have the world view us – we know ourselves – the highs, the lows and the myriad of in-betweens – we are just as reflective in our diversity as any other group of folk are in theirs, in dealing with the challenges of everyday life – nuff said…;
It is time that we take control of our own reality, tell our own story, recognizing that it is a core part of the larger tapestry that is this nation;
It is true that to the victor goes the spoils and the writing of history, but it is time that we recognize that some victories happened a long long time ago, and that we have had our own victories more recently, and that there are other victories to realize, just over the horizon, if we choose to make them happen;
It is time to understand the parable of the elephant raised being held by chains, but now, as a strong adult, being held only by the thinnest of rope;
It is time…
That we acknowledge that conspiracies do exist – drugs flooding our neighborhoods, untimely deaths, recent supreme court rulings, well-placed dollars and other well-placed enticements – it is time that we not fool ourselves about this, and yet not be frozen in our response because of the implications;
It is time that the cries and screams and pain in death of our children are no less heard and no less felt and no less acted upon and surely no less prevented;
It is time we remember what we have always known – the beauty in our people; the strength and resiliency in our people, the demonstrated and the untapped greatness within our community…it is time to leverage this strength and beauty and resiliency and greatness;
It is time for boldness, and risk-taking, and creativity, innovation, initiative, for coalition building, for leading by example, and metrics focused on outcomes… It is time to plan strategically and to fight….for our young, and for our old, and for ourselves, and for our future;
It is time for us to recognize that by necessity ours must be a larger tent (there is indeed safety in numbers), so let us gather together under one large tent, let us join together under one large tent, let us fight together under one large tent, let us build coalitions together under one large tent, to move our community’s agenda (however we individually define it – be it an African American Agenda or a Black Agenda or a People’s Agenda or a Progressive Agenda or a Sustainable Wealth-building Agenda or an Economic / Political Action Agenda or a Save Our Children Agenda…..) forward;
Therefore, it is time
That those within the houses of faith, join those that are in the bastions of business, join those that are in the institutions of learning, join those that are in the places of healing, join those that are in the facilities of support, join those that are in the forums of political power, join those caught up in the prison industrial complex, join those that are in the safe places we call home, join those that have no homes, join those that are on the street corners across our communities…in recognition of a shared past, an inter-connected present, and the possibilities of a greater, yet undefined future that we, collectively, can and must define; that we can and must bring to fruition.
It is time, lord it is time, to right the ship that is the destiny of our community.
Let us start right now.
It Is Time is taken from Coalition of African American Leaders (COAL) News – January 6, 2015 Issue