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 need for community and the sense of security that it provides is something that the African American community is lacking but desperately needs. The unspoken bond that a community provides and the idea that you do ‘belong’ is irreplaceable. The network and support of the black community in many areas is a memory, or simply a shadow of what it once was. For some reason many of us have come to the conclusion that ‘making it’ is getting where we want to be on our own. Many people do not realize the reality that this mentality creates for those who are left behind, or the fact that no one makes it on their own. This mentality and form of division also applies to creating separation along economic lines. As a race we cannot afford to divide ourselves because our strength comes with our unity and the idea that those who have ‘made it’ should look out for those who are still trying to make it. A community is essential for many reasons, one huge reason is that it creates a foundation that can be built and improved upon by generations to come. Eventually with commitment and work communities reach the point where everything you need is right in your community and there is always someone willing to help you get it. This is the type of support African Americans need as a race if there is ever hope that success in our neighborhoods and schools will become commonplace instead of something new and unusual.To begin creating unity within our race we must begin we must begin with individuals taking responsibility for the position our race is in now, and these individuals must also agree to share in the work that is ahead of us. This work begins with ridding ourselves of the barriers we have allowed to be created whether they are defined by age, occupation, skin tone, economic status, or anything else. We have allowed groups outside of our race to capitalize on the differences between us to the point where we have been convinced they are downfalls of are race when they are truly assets. The diversity of our race offers the chance to create an environment where we can grow. Once individuals begin realizing we are responsible for more than just ourselves and by judging each other harshly we are simply falling into a trap it will result in a victory for our race, and change in our country. With the development and placement of organizations, businesses, and individuals who are prepared and eager to create projects and initiatives focused toward the actual enrichment instead of the dependency of the African American population, especially the youth change will begin to take place in our neighborhoods and communities.Finally there are certain signs that will begin taking place once the African American community begins to transform that will be notable. Proof of a thriving community can begin with the presentation of a community. The way citizens take care of their neighborhoods and property (including themselves) reflect how invested they are in their future. Also thriving and prosperity will point towards the youth. Individuals who are positive about their lives and their future will impress the importance of commitment and change upon their children. Youth who feel they are important and have a future are more likely to work hard towards their own goals and plans. To get to this point I believe that forums and places such as myspace, facebook, and HBCU connect are very important. They can be used to create discussion and engage conversation and thought on topics that are very crucial and relevant today. The great thing about these sites are that they involve the younger generations who will soon be faced with making the decisions but aren’t likely to always be involved in the discussion of their future. The masses who use these spaces have power in their numbers because if decisions are made they can be influential in enforcing their ideas and addressing their concerns.
It is very important for African Americans to rebuild a sense of community that transcends socio-economic boundaries for the reason that it will stop the stereotype of our community and make a huge difference in the lives we live. We need to establish a new attitude toward the world and take advantage of the opportunities around us . It was left up to ones of the future to rebuild the strength once started by our former leaders, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Striving to succeed is the attitude needed to breakthrough boundaries and set high expectations. Yes, African American communities have role models, but a lot of individuals are not fully aware or confident that everyone can succeed. It is important that hope is not lost ,or opportunities are not left waiting, because of common hardships in a community.
In order to connect the fragmentation that divides our race we need to declare that doors are opened to the underprivileged ones to start a better life. In this world it is common that minorities have to work harder to pursuit dreams. This common assumption should only strengthen our endurance. We need to show that we are not weak or ignorant, but that we can take what is offered and run with it to make a successful impact. Hard work is the only way we can appreciate success. It is only up to the choice of each individual that we can collectively build a bridge that unites us with other races. We do not want to repeat the same mistakes that keep us stagnant. By watching the success of others we should be motivated to pursuit goals of higher prospect and anticipation.
We need change in our communities that can rebuild self-assurance. Characters of a young and thriving community are; endurance, strength, and confidence to succeed. With the listed traits there is no reason one has to fall when knocked down. We need communication to share our thoughts on the world. The uplifting of each other should build us up. One way we can make friends who are educated, experienced, and have role model traits are through on-line networking. It helps ones to meet people that may share similar goals and interests. By being a part of the cyber community is may be easier to find someone who can share a word of encouragement. For the reason that maybe there is no one close that can help us on a certain subject, we have the opportunity to turn to someone else on advice.
In conclusion African Americans of any age, who have gone through any variety of hardships, should only use their negative experience to make a positive change. It is only left to the future that we can make a difference in the community we live in, and as a whole, that would stand out to the world. We need to take the responsibility to do better. Though we have a list of accomplishments, enough has not changed in the world around us.
My name is Ashley and I will be a college freshman next fall. I believe that it is extremely vital for Black Americans to rebuild a sense of community that transcends socio-economic boundaries. As a people we will never collectively reach a state of dominance, if we do not learn to look past status. We have to realize how much we are alike and that we have risen from the same dark past. We shall never demolish the ignorant and destructive theories of Jim Crow if we continue to degrade each other. The Black community is screaming for help. If we continue to slowly eradicate the foundation of what has been established by civil rights advocates and millions of black people who fought for freedom when no one wanted us to prevail, we will continue to hold ourselves back. We are burning down the village that raised us with our selfish acts and eagerness to tear down on another because of certain circumstances. Black Americans are loosing their sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. Therefore, we must take it upon ourselves as a community and individually to improve the Black nation. We must take advantage of every opportunity to remove the "walls" that we have so willingly built.
There are several things that can be done to connect the fragmentations that we have allowed to divide our race. But, it will not be easy to fix the hole in our community. First, it will take a large percent of black Americans to actually accept that there are several problems in our village. Next we must become a united people again. We can not point the finger at someone else; we must take responsibility for our actions. You always take care of home, before you move on to other issues. Next, we have to forgive those that can not come to terms with accepting their negative impact on the Black community. Then, we must take them under our wing, instead of looking down on them. In order to make our community function properly, we have to effectively communicate with each other, learn to solve our issues in more effectively, and we must learn to take advantage of each opportunity. The Black community must revive the hunger and passion to attain and education and as much knowledge as possible.
A growing and thriving community consists of several characteristics that range from economic and political standing to even deeper issues such as unity and family environments. In my opinion, in order for a community to be prosperous in their economic standing, they must first show potential and progress. For instance, during the times of racial discrimination and segregation, Blacks did not have a choice when it came to shopping and establishing businesses. The money stayed in within the community because we were not allowed to shop and start businesses outside of our community. Now that we can establish businesses and spend our funds wherever we choose, we must expand our businesses and give back to our community from time to time in order to amplify the economic standing of the Black community. In order to thrive politically, the community must be represented by leaders who will work to better the community by standing for things that will improve their communities. Recently, Black representatives are steadily increasing their numbers in the branches of government and hopefully the next leap will be an African American in one of the most important political positions, President of our country. I also believe that a thriving community works together. We have to become one united team in order to advance. We must realize the significance of networking, which can determine a great deal in the direction of one’s life in today’s society. So, when deciding if a community is growing and thriving I believe the community must display progress in education, the workforce, politically, socially, and the ability to network.In my opinion, if used properly, websites like HBCU Connect, My Space and Facebook can be impactful platforms for social networking. Away from the “cyber world”, most people have their own network of people. But, by having access to more people who have the same careers, goals, issues, question, or lifestyle can aid in one’s slight, and in some cases, tremendous advance in their field of work, study, or some part of their life. Networking is extremely powerful and is sometimes the difference between taking advantage of an opportunity and earning what you want and losing out on an opportunity. So, if we choose to utilize these networks to help us and not just for socializing, there is a great possibility that we could improve many aspects of our lives through simply networking.
Minorities face numerous hardships throughout life. For example, statistics show that minorities are less likely to graduate high school and less likely to advance to college than Caucasians. Several movies in the past decade have depicted inner-city schools’ lack of concern for black, low-income students. Movies like Dangerous Minds, The Ron Clark Story, and Freedom Writers show that school systems are not always concerned with the quality of education these students receive. When people watch “inspirational teacher” movies, some of them acknowledge the sad reality of the movies, but few people actually think they can make a difference. Another thing people may not realize is that racist treatment does not occur exclusively in large cities, but also in schools and organizations across the country. Black Americans must come together as a community to ensure that our youth receives the same opportunities as other young people. Often times, our society does not realize the power of a strong, healthy community. A growing trend in our society, especially in the black community, is the lack of a stable home. As a result, many of our young people do not receive guidance, encouragement, and support to help them excel in life and to help prevent them from making bad decisions. The black community needs to create an environment in which young people will receive the discipline and guidance necessary for them to become successful. Not only that, but these young people also need confidence and support to become the best they can possibly be. The black community needs a wake up call. The future of our nation is in the hands of the youth. Therefore, our youth needs upstanding black mentors to help them find a path that will lead to a successful future and help them stay on that path. As black Americans, we have allowed so many things to divide our community, whether it was having a different economic status, or simply living in different parts of a city. But it is not too late to reconnect these fragments among our race. All we need to do is actually care about one another and realize we are not really that different.In a thriving community, people care about one another and want the people in their community to succeed. In addition, they realize the success of the members of the community reflects on the community as a whole. As a community grows, more and more people will benefit from their strength and compassion, and even more people will be able to prosper. One of the major characteristics of a thriving community is simply being connected to one another. With all of the advances in communication and technology, it is quite possible for black Americans across the nation, and even black people around the world, to support and guide each other and to form a closely knit community. We can listen to one another online and offer support and advice. Our generation is fortunate to have numerous social networking sites such as HBCU connect, MySpace, and Facebook, just to name a few. Our generation must learn to utilize these resources to improve the black community. One way we can do this is to start discussions about the things that are occurring in our separate communities. By allowing other people to voice their encouragement and advice, a connection will form between these separate communities, bring us all closer together.
Tupac and Biggie both black entertainers, both male, both rich and famous, both loved and cherished, both dead and gone, and why? Because of envy, because of pride, because of greed, because of fame, because of gang affiliation; forgetting along the way that they were brothers with the same goal and purpose, whose forefathers had toiled the same earth, and were both forced out of their country, bought and sold like animals, and placed in a country foreign to them. However time and circumstance has forced these brothers apart, nature and mankind has played a gruesome joke on them, placing them as opponent in the ring of life. In order to prevent annihilation through self destruction it is important for Black Americans to rebuild a sense of community that transcends socio-economic boundaries through the use of online social network to connect the fragmentation black Americans have allowed to divide the race.It is imperative for Blacks to rebuild a sense of community that transcends socioeconomic boundaries because the survival of the black race greatly depends on team effort; support systems where help is given to aid those in need. However with the current breakdown of the Black community, growth, progress, and innovation which are all characteristics of a thriving community are impossible to attain. We have to be cognizant of the fact that tearing a fellow brother down, tears down the whole community, thereby ensuring our retardation and the stagnation of the black community which is what we have been experiencing for the past couple of years. In addition to aiding one another unto greater heights, online social networks platforms such as myspace, facebook, HBCU, and others that aid the establishment of community that mimics the natural community something which here are accustomed to also aids in connecting the disintegration of our race. By creating a sense of harmony and friendship, where people of similar interest and purpose can meet or connect and where friends and colleagues can easily communicate and remain in contact. Thereby creating a sense of community to which we are already accustomed to. This sense of community, which is greatly needed then, slowly but surely bridges the gap that exist among blacks giving them a common goal and purpose; removing the insignificant differences, and accommodating a spirit of compromise, harmony, friendship and companion that is something which unanimous within a community.Although Black Americans have allowed a drift to occur amongst ourselves, however by developing a spirit of community, with a help of online platforms such as facebook, we would be able to eliminate the gap which leads to self-destruction, and realize that we are fighting on the same side, were are not opponent but proponent, and the real adversary is poverty, crime, gang violence and the rest of the plagues we face. When we realize these truths we as a race will experiences growth, progression, and happiness which are indications of a thriving community. Studying the history and experience of our fathers, and examining the health of our race through research it came to me in an epiphany that only by supporting each other and lending our shoulders as a pillow and ladder, would we as a community can climb out of the box of limitation that slavery and our color has placed us.
Before any true progress can be made, we must first realize that success is within our reach. We must also realize that we are not where we should be as a race.
The strength of a community lies not in how much help they receive, but in how much they help themselves. We must form a community that is strong enough to define its environment and not an environment that defines the community. To do this it takes confident people, ambitious people who believe in the potential of all African Americans as a whole…
…people such as Geoffrey Canada,the founder of Harlem Children Zone, who adopted a 100 block area of central Harlem and created programs to help more than 10,000 inner-city children each year. With generous contributions from private donors and foundations, Geoffrey raised enough money to build a $42 million, state-of-the-art middle school. The middle school is just a few blocks away from his progressive elementary school, Promise Academy.
Before we can change the way the world or anyone else sees us we must change the way we see ourselves. One of the biggest sins that we as a people are guilty of is that too many of us see ourselves through an oppressor’s eyes. Divisions form within our communities because of ignorance.
I was surfing through channels one day and came across the Oprah Winfrey show. The topic was racism, and on that show they had a debate over Hip-Hop music and the progression of the black race. But by the end of the show the debate simply relegated to vain arguments. It was obvious that everyone on the show was there for the exact same reason: to uplift our people as a whole. But by the end of the show you could not tell. Instead of building on the foundation that unified them, they focused on what divided them.
I’m tired of seeing it. I’m tired of seeing African Americans attack other African Americans because of petty differences that have little to do with the progression of our race as a whole. Respect for every member of your race is the key. Once respect is established, compassion can be established. And once compassion is established, true unity can be established.
We must take a position of responsibility. Our success rests on our shoulders and no one else’s. No one will give us our success, but we will obtain our success. We don’t need anyone’s help.
It really does take a village to raise a child. A child that has his or her foundations from a strong community cannot be broken – not by any negative influence nor by any prejudiced people.
A strong community has a strong set of ethics, and applies those ethics to the lives of each of its members - values that bring about knowledge, wisdom, respect for self and for one another. They promote the values that positively affect people.
A strong community influences society as a whole. A successful community serves as an example of what a group of people can accomplish if they look out for each other. They bring out positive change, politically, economically and socially.
This all may sound overly idealistic, but it is the truth. Unfortunately there is no quick fix. There is no easy answer. There is no single program, no government assistance, no NAACP enactment and no amount of money will fix this problem, because the problem is within ourselves.
To be black is to be a strong human being. To be black is to be blessed by God with the responsibility to change the world by example. It is not a curse, and it is not a setback. To be black is to be a soul that was formerly oppressed, but is now discovering its freedom potential.
The creation and participation in a community, based on cultural and ethnic similarities is a part of an African legacy. The struggle with unity and separation is a part of African American heritage. The erosion of the community will not end until there is a shift in the ideal of success. Instead of success being measured by bank accounts or zip code, success must be measured by community leadership and outreach. Wisdom is disseminated not through books or chalk dust, but through modeling and mentorship. The African American community suffers from a cancer of ignorance of heritage. This lack of knowledge has slowly eaten away at the strengths of the community leaving a carnage of violence, drug and welfare dependency, incarceration and poor health. Just as a house divided can not stand, the African American community divided will surely fall. The current state of the African American community can change and the divide of classism, which thwarts the movement of unity, can transition into a resource, a simultaneous source of pride and inspiration. W.E.B. DuBois wrote eloquently about the necessity and responsibility of the Talented Tenth. As members of the African American community, we must heed the prophetic words of this great man. A thriving and successful African American community must possess strong leadership. These leaders are people who are selfless enough to share of their wisdom and resources. Small businesses bringing both a wealth of knowledge and funding should be in place. African American professionals should give credence to the warnings of Carter G. Woodson and halt the pursuit of the American Dream, which has become grandiose to the point of surrealism. Instead, African American professionals should pursue the African American Dream: A nation in which African Americans have reclaimed their heritage and it is reflected in the faces of leadership. The return of African American professionals can begin with mentorship programs, the relocation of a business or office to an African American community or volunteering in a local clinic, homeless shelter or school. Each of these actions illustrates a restoration of trust to end the cycle of inter-racial jealousy. Local churches must also reclaim their inheritance of civil rights leadership and activism, once more becoming a powerhouse of knowledge and a beacon of hope. Technology can serve as a great equalizer, re-enforcing the truths of community knows no boundary. As DuBois encouraged those who were talented and gifted to provide protection, inspiration and resources for their less fortunate siblings, technology provides an outlet for fostering that similar community today. Computers and the use of the internet can never re-create the community of the past. Instead, it serves to create a community that is stronger and larger. For African Americans, the computer and online resources serves as a diasporic connector; reviving a national sense of solidarity and unity and creating kinship ties which will not break due to political or class issues. The internet allows for the access of this common heritage and gives voice to a common language without awkwardness or concern for acceptance. African Americans from every background can converse freely and openly exchanging ideas and fostering a sense of trust and commitment; these are necessary components in an active and strong community. Just as ideas about freedom and liberty were once shared in slave meetings and ring shouts, from pulpits and sidewalk podiums, through poetry and music; these ideas are now circulated via the internet. The audience is bigger and the impact is greater. A new generation can now discuss, strategize and implement positive change to create a thriving African American community and achieve the African American Dream.
During slavery, many efforts were made to separate blacks in order to keep them under control. Among these efforts was the separation of lighter, more Caucasian looking slaves from those with more African features. The former were the house slaves and the latter were the field slaves. This division caused house slaves to sometimes think better of themselves and look down on those who were in the field. This continued long after slavery and it continues today. Now it comes in the form of socioeconomic factors. Blacks who make more money and are “higher up” separate themselves from and look down on blacks who are of a lower economic class and who live in inner-city, urban communities. This leads blacks who make more money to separate themselves altogether, not even identifying themselves in the same group. Therefore, they have no reason to help or bother with blacks of a lower socioeconomic group. This creates a never-ending cycle of self-hate and self-destruction on both sides, which undermines progress made through programs like Affirmative Actions and the NAACP. African Americans of all socioeconomic groups must unite to build up the entire community as a whole, and only then can blacks break the cycle of self-destruction that has taken hold on the community for so long. Communication between these separate groups of African Americans, teaching of African American history in schools, and encouraging students to love themselves and view themselves as worthy individuals are three crucial elements to this endeavor. In order to bring the fragmented groups of African Americans together, communication is important. The main reason for the division between these socioeconomic groups is the narrow view they have of one another. Upper middle class blacks see negative stereotypes of blacks through the eyes of the media and movies, which show groups of uneducated black people being loud and obnoxious. This causes embarrassment and a desire to separate from this negative light. Then, lower class blacks see the upper class as stuck-up people who tend to forget where they came from and eventually become “Uncle Tom” types. This is why it is so important to see life through a different set of eyes. The African American community can do this by speaking to each other about problems in their individual communities, telling each other what each community needs so that they can help and educate each other. Once there is understanding, there can be less judging, and once there is no judging, there can be unity. The second step to healing the African American community is to teach African American history in school. The old adage is true; those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Because of the insufficient education of black history in schools today, most blacks do not know the inherent reasons for the division of the African American community. They do not realize that slavery was not only about physical pain, but also mental and psychological abuse. The latter has found its way into the 21st century in the form of what many call, the “slave mentality” and causes most, if not all, of the fundamental problems found in the African American community. Once blacks are educated on this matter and understand that they are fighting years of mental oppression, they can fight these problems head on and build the community up as a whole. Finally, self-love in the African-American community can bind the community together. During the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, one crucial piece of evidence was a study done by Kenneth and Mamie Clark. The study gave a group of black children a choice between a white doll and a black doll. In most cases, the children picked the white doll, revealing the level inferiority felt by African Americans. To deal with this complex, African Americans find ways to separate and make themselves feel worthy as individuals. There are many methods of separating oneself, including skin color and socioeconomic factors. But once African Americans can love themselves, they can help and encourage each other to achieve great things. Then, African Americans can come together and build a community that is thriving and productive.Communities that are successful tend to have three main characteristics. They are family oriented, understand money management, and are spiritually nourishing. Family orientation is of great importance when looking at flourishing communities. They understand that learning from the past is crucial to growing up and therefore value the family system. Money management and self-sufficient living are also very important. Frequently, these communities sell to and buy from each other in order to build up homegrown businesses, therefore creating a community that ensures success for everyone. Finally, spiritual nourishment is important in successful communities. They are many times religious and very centered in their spirituality, which builds a strong sense of self-worth. Although it may take a while, these goals can be achieved with patience and determination and also with the help of mass communication, namely through networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. Online networking sites have totally changed the way people communicate. Although some criticize these sites for taking the place of much needed person to person communication as well as for demeaning grammar and speech skills, if done right, these sites can actually help the African American community. With more than one hundred million people worldwide on these sites, there is a great opportunity to come together and make a difference. With groups and discussions that are on groups like Facebook and MySpace, people from all different walks of life can come together on equal terms and discuss the issues. These sites have the special ability to break down divisions because everyone is on the same site with the same abilities as everyone else. This way, everyone’s opinion is equal and has a chance to be heard. It will not be easy to break down the divisions in the African American community since it took hundreds of years to put them there. But with faith and persistence, African Americans can build a community that is flourishing, successful, unique, and of course, united. All that is needed is communication, education, and encouragement. This can all be done with the help of networking sites that allow people from all socioeconomic groups to come together with equal opportunity to share their opinions about African Americans’ problems and the solution to those problems. It will take a while, but once this cycle of re-growth and rebuilding start, it will continue and eventually, the result will be a unified black community.
It is important for African Americans to re-build a sense of community that transcends socio-economic boundaries due to the current fragmentations which currently exist. The African American community is fragmented in many different ways. One of the major divisions is socio-economic status. Values such as two parent households and the sanctity of marriage are often viewed as middle to upper class values instead of the expected norm. Such family oriented values are often criticized for being considered out of touch with Black America. This perception could not be farther from the truth. During the sixty’s and early seventies the majority of African Americans came from two parent households. The number of Black children living with a single parent has more than doubled since 1960 from 22% to 53.3% in 2000. Since 1980, more black children have lived with a single parent than with two parents 42% versus 45% respectively in 1980 according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Family oriented values need to be reinstilled in the African-American community. African American communities previously shared a sense of pride and unity that transcended economic boundaries. Community based programs are one way to help rebuild a sense of community. I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Library Science. I want to pursue Librarianship as a career because it will give me the opportunity to continue to be of service to people in need. I plan to implement programs that would help bring parents and children to the library. My vision is to start initiatives that will introduce technology to all neighborhoods and to people from different walks of life. Bill and Melinda Gates helped to finance computers and other technological equipment in many libraries across the country. Once I become a librarian I would like to partner with philanthropist such as Bill and Melinda Gates to start programs that would enable people to learn basic technology and computer skills at their local library. Along with hard work and fortitude it takes money to finance initiatives that will make a difference in the lives of others. One significant example of how librarians have helped to change someone’s life is the story of Dr. Ben Carson. Dr. Ben Carson is the Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. He grew up in a tough neighborhood in Detroit’s inner city. Dr. Carson stated in his book “Gifted Hands” that he did not develop a love for reading until he had to start going to the library after school at his mother’s request. A librarian that noticed he and his brother were coming to the library frequently began to set books aside for him she thought he would like to read. Ben Carson’s new found love of reading led him to excel in school and get a full scholarship to Yale. I want to have that kind of positive impact on people’s lives. Information is the key for people to change their lives. Librarians have a profound ability to touch the lives of others. The love of reading and other skills that patrons gain at libraries can extend to other areas of their life as was the case with Dr. Carson. The benefits can have a positive impact on the community as a whole and contribute to a growing and thriving society. A few of the characteristics of a growing and thriving community include: businesses that are prosperous, people taking pride in their neighborhoods, and a sense of connectivity to the larger community. African American communities in the sixties and seventies were able to thrive because the community members were more focused on their similarities and not their differences. More people lived by the motto of bringing others up to their level by looking down only to uplift. The extended family was also very prevalent. The extended family helped to ensure that there were no “latch key” children or fatherless homes in the community. If a child’s parent was not home then that child would stay with one of the neighborhood parents or local babysitter until their parent arrived home. In addition, if a father was not present in the home another father in the neighborhood would be there to participate in the pivotal moments of the child’s life. On-line social networking platforms such as HBCU Connect, Facebook and My Space can serve as a major forum for the exchange of ideas that will help the community to prosper. In addition, it can also be a way for parents to take an active part in their child’s life. Most teenagers use social networking platforms on a daily basis. HBCU Connect, Facebook and My Space have become the primary tool used for the children to communicate. Parents know the dangers of sexual predators and other unwholesome individuals using on-line social networking platforms to prey on innocent children. If parents start to spend time on these websites then it may give them more of an insight into their child’s life. Ideas that can enhance communities across America can also be shared in an instant on platforms such as HBCU Connect, Facebook and My Space. For example, ideas about how to improve schools, neighborhood safety, and how to maintain safe and drug free communities can be submitted. When communities need to be notified of upcoming events or other significant events taking place one message could be posted in the online networking platform that would notify everyone instantly. Educators could also use the online platforms to communicate with parents about their child’s behavior and about upcoming projects that are due. People lead such busy lives that online platforms such as HBCU Connect, Facebook and My Space offer a great way for communities to communicate with each other. The African-American community will need to return to it’s roots to experience the prosperity and success that was once shared with in the community. Too many fragmentations have taken place within the community to cause divisions to take place that have weakened family structures and ultimately the society as a whole. Community based programs and online social networking communities can serve as a starting point for reunifying the African-American community. There is a lot of work that needs to be done but with strength and determination the community can rise to it’s former glory.
Three hundred years of slavery. One hundred years of segregation, discrimination, and injustice. Thinking four hundred years of concerted efforts to tear down black communities will be resolved in fifty years with racism and discrimination continuing to subjugate us…priceless. There has been a wide sweep of self-criticism, self-loathing, and self-hate within the black community at every class level. Those in the hood, it has been found, actually tend to be more critical of black folks and more self-critical than those in the middle and upper classes. Coincidence? Not quite. Hundreds of years of negative images perpetuated by white-controlled government and media will do the trick. Our task as a community is to counter these attacks with our own sense of identity, independence, and power that transcends creed, cash, consciousness, color, or continent. Any strong community needs to know itself. This must come before any goals are sought or met. As Black people we have to know who we are. We have to remember that for thousands of years, our ancestors lived on the continent of Africa. Our time in the United States represents only a fraction of the time we have spent outside of this continent. Judging by how we fared in the United States and Africa, I would have to take my chances on a place where democracy was prevalent, equality of the sexes more visible, where we served as kings and queens, where sexism and discrimination were non factors, and where we traded amicably with a variety of other cultures. For some reason though, as a race, we take more pride in a place where we were beaten, terrorized, told we were livestock, non-human, three/fourths a human, “minority,” a ******, a colored, everything but who we are as a people. Similar convictions of a separation for the African continent exist to an even greater and disconcerting extent in Latin and Central America and throughout the Caribbean. The first step to rebuilding community is recognizing that we are an African people. This does not mean we all need to change our names to African ones or start wearing dashikis. These are cultural aesthetic values that do not necessarily speak to our state of mind. Further, Africa is so diverse that going out and picking up some generic kente cloth and some random African name does not show an appreciation of the variety of cultures and nations that exist on the continent. What must be most highly sought is the acceptance of African values of community, equality, cooperation, mutual help, family, and spiritual well-being integrated into all facets of our lives. When we can learn and appreciate our history, our values, and our possibilities to unite with other Black folks who look like us around the globe, we will surely build a stronger community. Upon understanding that our identity cannot be based in an America that was not built for us, but on the backs of us, or in a Brazil that still deems blackness to be the scourge of the earth, or in a Caribbean that still caters to white travelers more than to many of its own people, we will advance. Upon recognizing that our identity must rest on a solid African foundation with a tradition and history that the world copied and manipulated to our disadvantage, we will advance. When we do advance and recognize our identity as an African people and connection with other African people regardless of class, we will automatically gain a sense of independence. We will recognize that our Nigerian brother who majored in civil engineering might be a good partner to invest in oil and develop a chain of oil companies, gas stations, and manufacturing plants that can benefit black communities. We will no longer have to rely on the BPs and the Shells and the Texacos. We will not have to spin our wheels boycotting a gas station every year, because we will not rely on them for our gas. When we recognize our identity as an African people, we will not have to consider ourselves minority and attempt to be the lone black CEO of a white-owned company and regard it as a major success. Rather, we would connect with Black people around the globe, realize we are of a majority, pool our resources, and create our own financial investment firms, retail outlets, car manufacturing plants, and architectural firms. When someone of another race is proud of being the lone member of his race on the board of directors in our black owned company, we have truly freed ourselves from the shackles of economic dependence. With this independence comes power. In fact, power is developed throughout the process of identifying and freeing ourselves. Power means that we have the ability to live and think freely without relying on someone else to live and think for us. As it stands, without non-black owned grocery stores we would starve. Without non-black owned oil manufacturing, we could not drive. Without non-black owned housing developments we would be homeless. Others create our homes, cars, and cultivate our food. All this when we were the original farmers and innovators of the world! We do not have the power we need to live because others have positioned themselves to do it for us. We must regain a sense of power to unite our community. We must recognize that we have this ability and that other black people have the ability to succeed in this world without losing our sense of self. We must know that we can do this with other people that look like us. This is all necessary to regain power politically, economically, socially, and psychologically.Fortunately, with the rise in technological innovations, community building is becoming even more possible. Online networks are on such example, and we must use them to our advantage. Beyond that, we must begin to be at the head of technological advancement in order to shape our lives for the better. Myspace and facebook are cool. But let us learn to write computer programs to create networks that specifically address our needs. By utilizing such networks, we can exchange information fast as tools to unify economic resources to create start-up companies, network with other Black professionals who would be interested in working with other Black professionals, disseminate political information about candidates that benefit Black communities, create petitions and plan protests to engage us in our civil communities, post information about our history or financial education in an engaging way to those without the resources of a college education, and to unite Black people around the world without paying anyone for it. These are all characteristics of a growing and thriving community, and one we can achieve by taking advantage of our technological resources.While much of the Black world lags behind in their technological resources, Black Americans have the ability to bring technology to those of African descent in the Caribbean, Latin America, and on the African continent. Comparatively speaking, African Americans are doing pretty well. We are not malnourished. Most of us have homes. If we isolated ourselves from the truly poor, we would not be able to thrive in the long term. Bringing technology to Black people, including poor Black people, around the world, and connecting online with other Black people is one key to universal, enduring success.Identity, independence, and power are all ways we can achieve a stronger sense of community. Building a community allows us to thrive and succeed in ways our ancestors succeeded. The only times we have improved as a people is through solidarity. We got the right to sit on the front of buses because we decided, as a people, to not ride them until they desegregated. When we got the attention of the United States government to provide Civil Rights Acts was when we demonstrated as a people. Something that has been missing from these moments of unity, however, is a comprehensive understanding and practical collaboration with black people of lower classes and other nationalities. Connecting internationally and across class lines with other black people will undoubtedly allow us the sense of community and reality of success that has been missing for several generations.