I know you’re wondering, who is this fellow? What credentials, education or background gives him the authority to suggest what I should do, much less how I should advise my family?
Well, I am really nobody special, just a black man, an interested party in the growth, survivability, of my people and their ability to compete for whatever job in every profession available in the worldwide job market. I want us to take ownership in our community and stop waiting on others to dictate what happens there. I didn’t go to Harvard or a historically black college. In fact, I’ve never graduated from any major college. But I did graduate cum laude from the School of Hard Knocks, with a major in “Common Sense.” So, this year I will use my media sites (HCofA’s “Reading for Knowledge” Initiative) and credentials to advise us all to read more, especially during this political season.
Believe me when I say, I’m not trying to be flippant here, but I do want you to consider the following information.
A Huffpost Books headline screams “The U.S. Illiteracy Rate Hasn’t Change in 10 Years.” Granted it’s from a December 12, 2014 update, but do you think it has gotten better since then? In the article the U.S. Department of Education along with the National Institute of Literacy states 32 million adults (14% of our American population) in the U.S. can’t read. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read. Major question…how do they graduate if they can’t read?
According to the Department of Justice, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” According to BeginToRead.com “85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, and over 70 percent of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.” They predict that “2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail of on welfare.”
Although these are the statistics from all juveniles regardless of color, creed or origin, shouldn’t this concern you for Americas present and future? What about the People of Color community? Do you see growth in these numbers? A collogue recently posted the following sign on Facebook. It read “No one is coming to save you. This life of yours is 100% your responsibility.” Even God expects us to do certain things for ourselves by utilizing the human gifts he has bestowed upon us.
I’m a history lover; World, American and especially Black History. I’m just as fascinated today to read of black people, their inventions and exploits as I was as a kid. I used to skip school to go to the library because I believed they were not teaching me what I needed to know in school, parochial or public. It was dumb on my part because even today, you still need that degree now more than ever to compete for a decent job. Yet, never overlook the importance of reading a book for some type of media for knowledge.
Why don’t we get personal and look at the people in our circle of acquaintances, people we meet and talk to on a day to day basis? An irritating person is someone with whom you’re having a discussion that obviously does not know what they are talking about. During the conversation you find that the source of what little information they have on the subject comes from a friend of theirs or something somebody else has told them. Since they haven’t taken the time to read up on the subject, they are not aware they are repeating the wrong information. Yet they hang on to their erroneous information as if its word of Jesus Christ. Often time they are the most opinionated individual in the conversation and refuse to admit that their real lack of knowledge. Do you know anybody or ever been involved in that type of conversation?
Add to the mix those individuals, which can be any ones of us at times, who drive up to a neighborhood street, a store, a strip mall, or city business that is closed or moved to another facility. We wonder why we hadn’t gotten the word of this major detour or event. Not only are some of us not watching the local news, we are not aware of community developments. All that is needed is to browse our city websites or attending monthly meetings at the city hall. No…we tend to wait until some event strikes a personal nerve. Then we are all over it only to find out decisions about this particular project were made months ago. We are now too late to effect any kind of change in plans.
What about those who are backing a particular local or national political candidate knowing nothing about their real plans or reasons for running for office in the first place. Yet we are sometimes sure about whom we don’t want to vote for or we simply don’t vote. When that happens we get the kind of local or national Representatives, senators, or Presidents that don’t have our interest at heart. Or we are surprised by a position the newly elected official has taken that is opposite of our beliefs and the will of the people or everyday citizen. Once again, does any of this sound familiar to you?
There is a dire need for all of us to stay current on local and national events. We need to know the true details in order to avoid and in some cases provides us the ability to take action to effect change that affects your bottom line. That bottom line includes economics, community lifestyle or your children’s future.
A prime example is some in our local police department with cowboy attitudes when it comes to certain people of color. Does it really take a bevy of cops to empty their firearms into an individual’s back, front, or side that is armed with a knife? With the police chief stating at a press conference the officers feared for their life. Yet the video tells a different story of events.
Why must we wait for that to happen in our community? Why can’t we insist that our local officials, mayor, council persons demand additional training and a change in cultural in police? What is wrong with our policemen taking a stress test along with their fitness test every year? Such a physiological test is bound to reveal psychotic symptoms from certain individuals that should not be on the street with a weapon. Maybe they have been on the street too long to have a clear judgement in a normal response to a police action call. And overriding evidence has revealed that certain police tactics need a vast overhaul. The point is to implore the people who can effect change to act beforehand.
As a community of people, we must be more proactive instead of reactive. We start by being aware of current events in our community and nationally. Next, more remedy’s to the problem in Part 2 of this article.
Peace, make it a day in which Jesus Christ would be proud of you,
Codis Hampton II
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“In my latest book, Remember Moz, Gracie & John Hampton’s First-Born, I wanted to tell the world about a unique individual. Not because he happened to be my father but to explain who he was, where he came from, and how he evolved into the man he became up until his death. In doing so, I wrote of his ancestor’s roots back to and through the Civil War. The inclusion of his birth and upbringing in the heart of Arkansas, or Jim Crow country, add southern reluctance to learn why our country involved itself in a bloodthirsty four-year exercise in the first place? Then you begin to understand why, our parents behaved the way that they did. See if I captured the essence of this paragraph.” Get the book via the Authors Page at http://outskirtspress.com/webPage/isbn/9781478766056
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Copyright 2011 Codis Hampton II, all rights reserved. A bi-weekly blog for your enjoyment