I am excited about the response to the "State of Black Pasadena" report that the Journal published this month [4-9-09]. Many have contacted me about planning and facilitating a session or a series of sessions with small groups for the purpose of putting our collective heads together to develop some strategies for the future of our community. One group looked onto the idea of planning more programs to improve things in the areas of education and economics for Blacks. Others have contacted me about how we can influence the development of social and public policy that affect our community.
What is really exciting is that those who contacted me want to do something rather than just talk about the problems that we already know exist. What we need are ideas and action, not just more talk. In that vein, I propose Roundtable discussions. Those in the community who have new ideas may put something in writing and submit it to me so that when we meet we can start tackling the problems, rather than talking about and redefining the problems.
We are at a crossroad in Black Pasadena, and when you arrive at a crossroad you need a plan before you choose the path you are going to take. You also need the energy to carry on the journey. I say this because in developing a strategy for change and improvement of the community we need to involve the young, educated, and prepared. I note that those are some of the qualifications that caused the country to choose Barack Obama as our new leader. Those are the qualifications we need to join with those of us who are growing old and weary of fighting the same old problems.
While it is a sensitive subject, those of us who are older should be part of the planning, but we need to be ready to drop our egos and unrealized dreams, step aside, and let the younger ones take over and carry out the plan. If we really look at what happened in the Civil Rights Movement, the world changed because the young people took the lead in the action items of the day. Business succeeds because we let the young move into leadership while the older ones serve as advisors.
We are at that Crossroad. Barack Obama used new ideas. He believed the world had changed enough to choose a Black President. We old folks didn't really believe it could happen. Barack Obama's team used computers, e- mail, Face Book and other modern technology to move the world. Many of the older generation still don't use e-mail or computers, but we are still standing in the way calling ourselves leaders. What we are doing is, as my wife likes to say, merely "taking up space." And we wonder why we are seemingly at a standstill and not progressing faster.
My mother used to say that she was in the world and in the way. I used to hate for her to say that, but now I understand. We have many so-called leaders in that position today. They grew up in a different world and are infected by the ideas, prejudices and limitations of the past. I will not get any more personal than that. But if you feel a little uncomfortable take a look in the mirror to see if you see progress or someone in the way.
I look forward to the upcoming meetings and hope that some of you will send in your ideas in writing. Written ideas can be put to good use at such planning sessions on changing our community. One of the issues we face is who will be the candidates for the next election, where did they come from, and who chose them? Whether your ideas to change the future are radical, simple, or complex, be sure they are geared to helping make a change toward the right choices on which road we are to travel to get to that better future.
Other issues we face are that our children are suffering in school, and the mostly White School Board is making decisions daily that affect them, with little input from us. Did you know, for example, that there is a plan to develop a high school on the campus of PCC? Is that a good idea? Does it include Black kids? Does it smell like a plan from the past when PHS and PCC were one? Do you understand the plan to develop Academies on High School campuses, and do you know that it is exactly like a plan from the past which the District did away with? Do you know what is, or what is not happening in the elementary schools that is leaving our kids unable to read? What can we do with policies like social promotions and the criteria for entry into Special Education? And what can we do about it if these programs are destroying our kids educational progress?
It's time to go to work! As we begin, we need to look forward to The State of Black Pasadena 2010, one year from now with two questions in mind: 1) What will it look like then? and, 2) What did each of us do to improve it?