When President Barack Obama made his speech on Saturday in Ghana, West Africa I was first reminded of my trip to West Africa in 1993. And then as he began to speak saying things like "Freedom is the inheritance of Africans" and "Africa's Future is up to Africans", it all started to sound like the same tough love messages that needs to be modified for and given to African Americans.
I was impressed with the way President Obama dissected and outlined the problems of Africa into four parts. In effect he said that (1) the leadership and governance of Africa needs to be better. Too much of the resources of the rich continent ends up in the pockets of the leaders without benefiting the "people;" (2) the economy of Africa needs to utilize the resources of Africa to get Africans to determine their own destinies. The gifts that Africa receives from the west including America is good but the sooner they can stand on their own the better off they will be; (3) the health problems of Africa can and must be solved. Part of the problem is that many of the young Africans who train to be Doctors don't return to Africa to practice the medicine they learn; and, (4) conflict remains a problem that saps the strength and resources of Africa with no benefit to the masses of Africans. The poignant statement in this area came when he said that it is the "Death sentence of a society to give children a gun to kill." Sound like the gang problem here, to me.
Obama spoke of Africa's real resource being the people. To that I can only say a hearty Amen. In America an application of the Obama four part theme fits the problems of Black America with all of the progress we have made. In the area of leadership, the leadership of our major organizations is not attacking the problems of the community effectively. Schools are still under- educating our children. There is not enough attention paid to who is elected to run the local schools, police departments and other local government departments that have such a large effect on the citizens of a community.
There is also a problem with leadership of Civil Rights organizations that have lost their "warrior -like" attitude in dealing with the problems of Black communities across the country. You can't change a school district or a police department by being conciliatory to their leadership. There can be no compromise in the quest for equality and justice.
It is good to see young Ben Jealous at the helm of the NAACP. He seems to understand his role in the quest for change. His is new blood for an old task. Just as Barack Obama is new blood for an old task. Danny Bakewell at the helm of the National Newspaper Publishers Association is welcome "new blood" for a new task of making transparent the lingering problems across this country.
The Economics of the Black Community is ultimately in the hands of those who make up the Black community to determine their own destinies through more entrepreneurship and education. When we learn the lesson of cooperative economics and doing business with Black businesses "ON PURPOSE", we can improve our economic bottom line. Learning the lessons of investing in income producing assets will help in ways you can't imagine.
Conflict takes away the soul of the Black community. Obama said that violence in Africa is as constant as the sun in Africa. In America, the gangs are destroying our communities just as the rogue tribes of Africa are doing the same in Africa. The statement of guns and young people being a death sentence of a society playing out in America's schools and communities bears memorizing. We see it daily here in America. We can do better.
Health continues to be a problem. Again the solutions rest in the hands of the community. Eating better can help with the problem of childhood obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Why are we letting our children drink all that sugar in fast food restaurants? Substituting a salad every day and getting rid of those large sugar drinks is a great place to start. Just those two things took ten pounds away from me in one year.
We can do better in this "new era of Progress!