The "Power of Community" Essay Contest, sponsored by Hill Motor Corporation, is available to: 1. Graduating High School Seniors 2. Undergraduate College Students 3. Graduate College Students Scholarship Rules:You must write an essay that is at least 500 words addressing the following points(Remember, the more you can say with the fewest words, the better): 1. Why is it important for Black Americans to re-build a sense of community that transcends socio-economic boundaries? 2. What can be done to connect the fragmentations we have allowed to divide our race?3. What are some of the characteristics of a growing and thriving community?3. How can on-line social networking platforms such as HBCU Connect, Facebook and My Space best serve to aid in establishing the community that closely mimics the natural communities to which we were accustomed to growing up? Deadline For Essays:* June 1st, 2007 Scholarship Payout:* Winners will be contacted no later than September 15, 2007 * $1,000.00 * Must prove enrollment in a college or university in the United States prior to award Submitting Your Essay:First create a user account: http://forums.hbcuconnect.com/register.phpAll essays need to be submitted as NEW THREADS here in the HBCUCONNECT user forums under the "Essay Contest Forum". You can edit your submission as many times as necessary before the deadline... All essays will be made readable only by you until our deadline for submissions has been met. Once the deadline has been met, we will open up all threads for PUBLIC viewing while we select finalists. Once finalists are selected we will post a poll to allow for public voting for winners. Winning submissions to this contest will be posted on www.hillmotorcorp.comIn order to manage your submission you will need to create a user account and post your essay using the following link: http://forums.hbcuconnect.com/newthread.php?do=newthread&f=53(Report Obscene Photo)
The Power of Community
We as a Black people have transcended with the sociable tendencies from the sixties and seventies which overcame vigorous oppression to remarkably descending from the proud heritage of our kings and queens into the " ghetto terminology of a black man and black woman". To write this fully and honestly, I or we must ask ourselves. "How did it go off track"? We obtained a little taste of freedom and we got full to the brim. We wanted freedom, we got "freedom", and then we celebrated, celebrated and we celebrated some more. Lights on, off, on and off, the "party’s over people"! The importance for us to get back to the root is vital. We are indelibly dying at an unimaginable rate, more so than any other race on the planet and we have know one to blame but ourselves.
So I say " first thing first"! As many wars over land and religion that goes on in this world. We somehow mustard up the nerve to kill one another over a color or worst yet " he step on my shoe". Just pause and think about the irony of it all? Now, to the young black sisters and older black ladies out there in the world. You really do not have to make bunny ears for every man with twenty inch rims and a platinum chain. See, we must take a firm grip on some self discipline! If we can not discipline ourselves we can not transcend any of the boundaries that has been set forth unto us or by us as a people. Families need to learn the definition of family and our people need to realize that they are our people. We need to uplift, support, and comfort one another. Why are we digging our own graves? The sad part about is "most of our people" love it.
In the realization of what’s happening, you will see things have turned for the worst when a twenty seven year old black man can sit back and ask himself "What happen to our values". A true community would banish the narcotic activities by any means because it knows if it does not the drugs will eventually destroy the community and everything our four fathers work so hard to obtain. A true community would start businesses with value and substance then support them before any or other businesses. A true community would act as one with dedication and self preservation to itself. A community is a family in the aspect of comradery and understanding that what it becomes will effect what will become of the people that reside in it. The age of indulgement in negativity has to cease.
We as black people have to communicate in a rational voice "and then and only then" will the message become crystal clear. "Communication, would it be in the word community if it wasn’t a factor"? That is why HBCU Connect, Facebook and My Space are so critical towards our movement for togetherness. Small communities can connect with other small communities to make a larger and more productive community..Black entrepreneurs can network with other black entrepreneurs and begin to develop a niche market within the black community.
I know it all sounds like rainbows and unicorns when its on paper or read out loud but these are realistic goals that can be accomplished with hard work as a community and a people. With a each one teach one and self motivation to discipline ourselves to help someone else mentality, we can’t go wrong. So, how about it brothers and sisters? Let’s put the neighbor back in the hood.
Communication is the key for you and me. What I mean is for those who have no problem expressing ourselves verbally. But what about our pie in the sky brothers and sisters who have undergone verbal transplants. By this I mean taking the fast money, the NFL or NBA offers and leaving the streets unchanged. The streets have bottled their hope up and placed it in you, only for you to abandon the Jasmines' and Jerica's and to entertain the like's of Jessica and Jennifer. None of us got to the point that we are by our own, we all had someone influential that helped challenge us, and lightened out load, just enough to give us a chance. Chances do not come easy, they must be labored over, prayed for and ultimately granted by God.
How about the modern day repirations, food stamps and housing vouchers, these are all pie's in the sky. See you do not gain them on your own, yet to keep them you must vow to do nothing. No job that pays more than $10,000 a year, vow not to drive cars that are any newer than 10 years old, and finally you must spend more on rims and gold teeth than you do toward educating your own children. In return we'll give you voucher after voucher, tax breaks to keep Jordans on your feet. The average welfare recipient has three kids, a housing vocher which pays her to live in the projects until her kids are old enough to have kids. For added incentive well give you all the free dairy you want. See it's enslavement, its the captive not setting itslef free, rather it's the captive enslaving it young at an early age. It modeling the miseducation. I am not going to teach my kids how to struggle and get out of here, because it may mean that I fail, or have to work my ass off to provide a better life for them. It Pie in the Sky, the only thing is that we'll never know anything else until we begin addressing the miseducation of our young people.
"The Power of Community"
An “obsession” with socioeconomic status exists within entertainment mediums which target
the African American community. Anyone being "ghetto" or identifying as such spoil the fruits of the labor of our predecessors, the civil rights activists of the 1960s. They knew that black people were better than the confines of ignorance and other people's perceptions. In order to repair these fractures within the African American community, we, as a people, must unite and boycott the offensive so called “entertainment.” We've basically said that it's okay to disrespect us, expect less of us, because we do it ourselves.
Years ago within neighborhoods, people looked out for each other. We must get people emotionally invested in their communities again through programs, such as, community beautification projects a la "Habitat for Humanity." Job fairs, educational seminars, etc. could be scheduled for members of that community to attend. All this takes money which is often scarce. But, if events such as the aforementioned have to be held in large tents outside then let's do them because they could give people hope. One of Oprah's recent guests was a lady from Texas who organized a coupon clipping drive for her church to buy groceries for needy families. That's the sort of grassroots effort that needs to take place. If successful, such events could eliminate at least one concern for a family so that they could concentrate on other things like focusing attention on community efforts. Local employers could also be given tax breaks for reinvesting in their surrounding communities. Schools could bring in guest speakers, maybe a child's parent to talk about career prospects and the importance of education later in life. Children model their behavior after that of the adult's in their lives and their peers with whom they've become increasingly more connected via the internet.
Social networking sites, which are essentially “digital communities”, rank high amongst young web surfers; moreover, they create the perfect medium by which to reach out to teens. Groups could be created that target teens with information, public service announcements, and games/contests to increase their awareness of the world around them. Record companies could have musicians express to teens the importance of clean, healthy living with an emphasis on education and goal setting. Parents could serve as site moderators or counselors to provide guidance to teens when necessary; moreover, to ensure that teens are exposed to healthy influences while frequenting social networking websites. Local church groups, boy's and girl's groups, etc. could also set up profiles on these sites to actively recruit teen membership and aggressively promote their programs and services.
Every teen may not participate, but if one is reached then these efforts will not have been in vain. Whether change begins with young African Americans, older African Americans, or both, the ripple effects could course throughout the entire community leaving no stone unturned and, in effect, start African Americans and their respective communities down the path to greatness for which they were originally intended.
(for “Power of Community” essay contest, via HBCU connect)
Actually, I believe the question at hand means to read “In what ways is it important for Black Americans to rebuild a sense of community that incorporates socio-economic boundaries?”. “Incorporates”, as opposed to “transcends”, because transcendence in this context, and in any real-world and political context seems unearned, naïve, mythological; whereas incorporates (or similar term) refers us to the work that must be done. To incorporate means that we would not imagine only one particular place (that is socio-economic level) everyone must get to in order to be considered successful—and we have a nagging problem with the notion of success and how we realize it and talk about it within the Black community. Really, we almost always are saying “legitimate” or “valid” when we say “successful”, and when don’t say the word, that means we hardly want to consider the other at all.
To incorporate socio-economic boundaries might look like accepting the fact that my black neighbor who lives across the street is an activist, working in a NGO, wears Birkenstocks and hemp shirts, doesn’t know how to properly knot a tie, has a car that was chosen primarily for its fuel efficiency and not its stature among similar models, and reads journals that I may never have heard of before. In looking at that neighbor from the safety of my porch or my kitchen window, can I imagine he and I engaged in a protracted, difficult, and intimate process of building a community that means to make us free? To make the question more difficult: can I imagine this neighbor and I working towards that goal if she is a lesbian and lives across the street with her partner in open disregard of some ideas of motherhood, of decency, of legitimacy? What if my neighbor is a scholar at work for a conservative think tank, and still is concerned with living in and helping to create a thriving community? The question is at what point do I stop imagining the person I encounter as a ready partner in this collaborative process of creation—because that’s what building a community is—bringing forward into a shared reality what is achieved communally, through argument, consideration and honest, transparent negotiation.
This is a prime characteristic of a working, thriving community: that it is constantly in negotiation with real difference, uncomfortable difference and with the goal of knowing the difference thoroughly enough to ascertain how it can join in community creation or must be left out because incorporation would only cause harm (some things do). Another way of saying this is that the imagination of a thriving community is always bigger than itself—because it can still imagine those outside it: the drug addict, the ex-con, the other joining hands with its members to create ways to live. We tend not to go far enough in our assessments of difference these days. We forget that it is work, that it costs something, that we do not stumble into simply accepting it. We tend to utilize our church-bound moralities and our received ideas of justice to look at and apprehend difference. This is a kind of intellectual and spiritual laziness. We continue to behave as if our attitudes towards the poor and despised don’t cost us anything, but they do. Our attitudes towards socio-economic difference are indicative of our attitudes towards difference in general and often end up costing us the ability to bring into our growing communities the critiques and ideas and energy precisely required to make them grow. What we have mostly today is old, bankrupt ways of apprehending difference to the detriment of our imagination.
Perhaps what online communities (such as Facebook, HBCU Connect and My Space) can offer is not what mimics the “natural” communities to which we were accustomed, but forums that are wide and open and transparent. (It is a mistake to continually imagine that we can return to a past that once was, and truly may never have been.) These forums can be places where the community confronts questions such as whether to allow a new Walmart store in the community, or whether to ask the school board to update the menu of lunches offered children, or whether to support an outright ban on abortion. These debates that seek to develop the shape of the community cannot happen in secret council meetings or back door whispers, through rumor or even large-scale journalism. These debates need to happen in open spaces where engagement does not come at the cost of physical or economic duress, where we bring all of our intellectual and perceptive skills to bear, where we can confront the limitations of our own prejudice, and where, ultimately we can begin to comprehend how difference may save us.
University of London
The London Consortium Program
I think of large movements in the Black American community and I’m reminded of the Harlem Renaissance and the Hip Hop Renaissance. This makes me wonder can that be recreated on-line? I haven’t spoken to anyone today. Not a soul. But I have applied for 45 different scholarships. Is that helping us or hurting us? Whenever I think of a community in it’s most visceral sense it includes movement, art, sound, vibrant colors, and strong words. I’m sure we can get that all online nowadays with peoples streaming videos and splattering of words and pictures throughout their myspace page. Then I realize you still need something for that. Something that excludes you from the human experience; a computer. All you need for go-go music is a bucket and all you needed for breakdancing was a piece of cardboard. This I think was an important element in the growth of these movements because everyone could play. All I used to need to write was a pen and paper but the other day I found myself stopping to shake out the kinks in my wrist before I could move onto the next paragraph. I think the computer is great when we have large daunting tasks ahead of us like to compute tons of numbers, write legibly for a larger audience, but to mimic a community that I was accustomed to growing up…I find that hard to do without including the toxic fumes of Vietnamese run nail shops sprinkled with the salty scent of Mc Donalds french fries, the booming sounds coming from a jeep driven by a white guy going to get a mocha frappucino something the words, “Play that Funk Music Whiteboy” trailing behind him. However, now I was able to get a point across to you without the interruption of a cell phone ringing, “Hello Moto”. Or was I? Are you even still reading this or have you moved on to other things scolding your dog, or son, or neighbor, or drug dealer? Because let’s face it our attention is not what it used to be. I almost felt like cheating and hoping to win this whole essay contest by posting up a half nude picture of myself. That will get everyone’s attention! I thought but then I was reminded of a song Jill Scott sang where she drones out “Look at me…. I got all my clothes on…. And I can still siiiinnnnggg” Laughter love relief filled the air. The idea that maybe we can all go back to the bare essentials (excuse the pun) and people will still show up, still listen. I recently read an article about new websites called such things as Second Life where in cyberspace those that feel fed up with this one try again online. They can recreate their experience give themselves a name, a profession, they can even go into cyber realty and sell plots of cyber land, or better yet go into cyber/real debt!! Again! So if you don’t like failing once why not try it again? Will there be cyber gangsters, cyber car-jackers, cyber racially and economically biased educational performance tests? Will the cyber minorities feel just as discriminated against as the real life minorities even without the history? Will real life white people posing as cyber African-Americans demand cyber reparations? Malcolm X stated, even within the height of his observance of Islam that he could tell how developed a country was based on the treatment of their women. I would think a thriving community would do the same, treat their women well, have easy access to the things we love, the things that make us think, ideally large sidewalks and skinny roads encouraging walking discouraging driving, it would make room for everyone and not be exclusive. I think on-line communities are missing a healthy balance of actual human interaction and on-line interaction. I am so grateful for the chance to be able to showcase my most intimate work from my living room, or the opportunity to apply to 45 scholarships in my pajamas, but then there’s the downside. I used to be a community organizer which always brought us to a time where eventually we would have to hit the pavement, while I got thousands of kids to sign up online I found I was lucky if four people would show up. People begin to maintain their interest but maybe suffer from social anxiety maybe they really aren’t 5’5 with brown eyes. I would love a space on these internet websites where people can showcase their work, their creativity what they love most and then maybe these sites would actually be linked to a physical address in the neighborhood you and I grew up in, a working class neighborhood that allowed kids of all socio-economic backgrounds to access the computers to do live performances, that is part of what your advertising money can buy-because in real life we have no commercial breaks. I can see it now, “Come see HBCU Connect’s Contest Winner perform LIVE!!!!-Melissa Chadburn with ALL her clothes on!!” The runners up can perform too… we can all get together in a safe public place and meet those we’ve chatted with online!! Now in my manic moment of too much caffeine and florescent lighting I’m missing it… the applause, the snapping, the laughter.. that’s what I miss the most. There is no fame at home with my pajamas, lazy dog, and needy cat. In the end I’m left with… the revolution will not be televised!
"It takes a nation to raise a child." That common saying may have contained some truth, but this nation is not committed to helping us raise our children. Despite the obstacles and barriers that we as African Americans have endured to get to the point where we are now, we still have a long way to go. Being an African American today helps me to realize the need for restoration within our communities. African Americans today have detoured far away from the path that our ancestors paved for us through their blood, sweat and tears. Although, many have gone on to become successful despite all the injustice, we still need them to band together to help rebuild our communities. We as African Americans need to re-build a sense of community that transcends socio-economic boundaries, because with this we can promote long-term sustain-ability, including economic prosperity, a healthy community, and social well-being. Rebuilding could be the start to our future, our children’s future and their children’s future and so on and so forth. In order for African Americans to connect the fragmentations that we have allowed to divide our race we need to remember all that we have been through. We have endured tremendous racism, extreme prejudice and severe suffering. Many African Americans have forgotten all of the African Americans who struggled for us to have some type of freedom. We need to get back to our roots and remember who we are as a people and not only talk about wanting to make a difference, but finding something that allows us to do so. The characteristics of a growing and thriving community would first be unity, because a community divided can not stand. The second is Participation which according to the Webster’s New World dictionary means to join in, to take part, to involve oneself. There you have it everyone should join in the local community activities and organizations dedicated to building up the community. One should involve one self’s in the things going on around them and don’t just wait away or leave the problems for the next person, vote every vote counts. Take part or take control, do not wait on what the community could do for you, but do what you can for the community. As we should follow by example if we start then the others will come. Barrack Obama is an educated African American whom could have started off with a great job making awesome money up in some comfortable office. He chose to make a difference he took his concerns to the streets in the communities. The online social network platforms such as HBCU Connect, Face book and My Space best serve to aid in establishing the community that closely mimics the natural communities to which we were accustomed to growing up, because these networks are the basis for uniting. If we could meet individuals with common interest in reaching out to help our communities, then we could develop the start of something that could finish with some sort of achievement. Since computer technology is one of the new networking tools to meet new people, we have to take advantage of it. Try to find people within the community and contact them to see things that they would like to see happen within the community. Computer is the next best thing to going door to door so use them.
I know it may sound cliché, but there is strength in numbers. It is important for Black Americans to understand that in order for us to overcome many of the obstacles that we are facing today it is necessary for us to come on one accord and realize the we all really do need each other. With that said, re-building the sense of community that seems to have become lost in the last two decades will provide a sturdy foundation for solidarity and strength similar to that of the roots of the Civil Rights Movement. But in order for this to happen, our generation needs to be reintroduced to fundamentals of our heritage so that we all understand the history and blood from which we came. At the risk of sounding cliché again, the saying goes that you can’t understand where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. Well I’ll take that saying a step further and say that as Black Americans trying to reconnect to each other we can’t have a shared sense of our future until we have a shared sense of our past.
Looking at some of the growing and thriving communities in the Metropolitan Detroit Area, specifically the Arabic and Hispanic communities, I see two groups of people who are extremely educated , knowledgeable, and proud of their heritage. They are also able to organize and build social movements amongst each other that help benefit their own communities in an efficient manner. As Black Americans, we lack these abilities. We are able to build movements but they very rarely cause social change and reform in today’s society. I can’t help but believe that this is because today’s generation just does not understand the very real potential in our power and complacently dismisses our situation as something we can’t do anything about. Online social networking communities can change this by becoming platforms for social awareness, outreach, and information forums that explain and express the power that the black community holds.
I believe the most important way online communities dedicated to empowering the disenfranchisement of the black community is by allowing people to see for themselves that life is not this way for Black Americans everywhere. Most people are only allowed the fortune of seeing what’s going on in their “own backyards”. Most local news channels don’t report the positive things that goes on in their own communities, let alone the positive of other communities. Online social communities can expose many people to the light, so to speak, and provide them with examples of how other Black Americans are “making it” and resources and knowledge for how they can start organizing and building in their own communities. I’m looking forward to the day when my generation realizes that , while everything is not going to work out in their favor all the time, we don’t have to be complacent with the hand that life deals us and we can manipulate the cards to suit our goals. After all, stumbling blocks work equally well , if not better, as stepping stones!
Blacks Americans need to regain a sense of pride in themselves as students, and as a people as a whole. Everyone’s lesson starts from somewhere little do most know that it starts from their own community. The community sets the pace from which that child can succeed, with technology’s growth , library’s and athletics to keep the children busy. Most student’s who participate in sports in elementary, middle, and high school later attend college with a scholarship for being in that sport. In most communities they offer job placement, license’s for people to work in hospitals or nursing homes. Most of the people in America can say that in their community it was something that kept that person wanting to continue striving for the best. Something that made them want more to have a better life than they had before, but it all depends on the environment and community that the child lives in.
The black race in general needs to stop disrespecting their women, children, and themselves period. You do not see any other race doing these kinds of acts so out in the open with such intense language. Their favorite term to call a woman is the name of a female dog or to call her out of her name, it is no need for that. Our women and men need to know that there are special, respect your woman as you respect your mother, encourage our students to strive for excellence, to be better than we were when we were their age. So many opportunities for our children to succeed if we just helped them to do so. Besides we already have a stereotype for our race let’s make a difference starting at home base first. On the holidays that we celebrate MLK day, June 19th, and many other special celebrations, have a good time, no need for all the arguing and fighting that you see happen when most black people get together for an event. It’s suppose to be a day of enjoyment and celebration, just celebration how hard is that.
A growing community has advancement opportunities for the children and for adults to prosper. A community, is somewhat like a village, helping to raise a child. In my neighborhood we offer scholarships for graduating students, it helps the student to know that you support them no matter what. Community’s offer many job opportunities for students after school, volunteer services for NJHS, a community is the backbone behind many successful students today, it starts from home and expands from there.
Online social networking helps bring a sense of pride, a way for friends and family to connect with those who are away at college, or those that are not at home. I have a myspace account that I use only to keep in touch with my friends, to gain new ones, and for basic fun for a student who typically spends most of her time on the computer. In my perspective this helps many people that are normally shy to go and begin a conversation with someone, will instantly gain a friend with someone over the net.
I, like everyone else in this country, was shocked at the blatent displays of racism being expressed over the last year. First, Kramer rants for at least 5-10 minutes on how we are still ******s, then Sean Bell and his friends get gunned down in Queens, and now Don Imus thinks that the Rutgers Basketball Team was a bunch of "nappy headed hoes". All of those things were appauling andI was shocked for a very brief moment.
Then I was enraged. We as a people are fighting the battles as they arise, then once we feel successfully appeased, the fight dies. It saddens me because at the time of Malcolm and Martin, we rallied on all issues that affected Black people, but now we seem to focus on those issues that socially affect us.
Sean Bell was killed on the eve of his wedding to the mother of his kids and his two friends were also injured by that same gunfire. I heard about how outraged people were until Don Imus called those young ladies some "nappy headed hoes". Then our entire focus turned from what was a more severe issue: NYPD firing excessively at unarmed people of color. To me, I want to know that if I am coming outside and I am confronted by the cops, I am able to reach for ID without being gunned down.
At this point, I think as a community, we need to consider what problems we are really facing. There are so many things going on in African American culture: AIDS, violence, drugs, sex, prison, and other real and pressing issues. I think we are only bothered by what others tell us to be bothered by. Until enough people are dissatisfied with the way of this society and the treatment of African Americans, then we can only begin to use the power contained within the community!