In reference to African-American life and struggle, we hear people say things like “we’ve come a long way” and “times have changed.” Both statements are true – enormous strides have been made and great progress has resulted; however, we are still nowhere near where we need to be.
Racial profiling is virulent – in stores, in schools, on the streets and virtually everywhere else. Wealth and education disparities between African-Americans and other racial groups continue to widen, with African-Americans often lagging behind. Within the black community itself, a fair amount of negativity and distraction still chips away at the unity and collectiveness the ones before us fought so hard to create and promote in the first place.
To put it simply, the fight for our betterment is not over.
But this isn’t one of those ‘we’re not doing enough, so I’m going to complain about what we’re missing in the black community’ posts. I want to take this time to acknowledge the work that IS being done.
I live in Richmond, Virginia – statistics label it one of the worst cities in the nation for high crime and poverty rates, among other things. At the same time, Richmond, Virginia is where activists, artists, entrepreneurs, community organizers and other trailblazers who work to better the black community call home.
Yesterday, I had the first meet-up for my newest project called the RVA Black Image Collective. My mission for the Collective is to provide a forum for people to come together and talk about issues concerning Richmond’s black community in hopes that it will inspire and motivate us all in the work we do (or want to do) in the community. This month’s topic was the state of black youth in RVA. The meet-up couldn’t have gone any better. Some people at the meet-up organize yearly school supply and coat drives and others collect clothes for children in need all year around. Others are working in Richmond City schools and are fighting to serve the needs of each and every child in their classes, despite the constraints of the system and its curriculum. And yet, there were others who are working to make a difference using a political approach. And then there were those who choose to make a difference on a smaller, individual scale – from taking a child under their wing with an incarcerated parent to stopping a child in the street walking around in 20 degree weather just to zip his coat up.
The work is being done. We’ve got the ball rolling.
No matter how big or how small it may be, the work we do to improve our conditions is NEVER in vain. Any and everything matters. And it matters to acknowledge this right now, during the month of February, to further highlight the NEED for our work all year around, not just during 28 days in the winter.
In all honestly, this work commemorates the ones before us more than anything else could. They always did the work. They led. They toiled. They screamed. They whispered. They taught. They organized. They fought. They resisted. They stayed up late. They woke up early. They stayed in their hometown. They traveled the world. They raised their voices. They gave others a voice.
They kept their word. And in the work we do, we’re keeping their word, too.