I am constantly reminded of the famous quote by a Persian prophet… “People who go through life with hands outstretched and palms facing upward will always be perceived as beggars.”
It has been disturbing to me for many years that we as a people have been neglect in reaching into our pockets to help ourselves. Over the years I have known a number of persons who had genuine concerns about the multitude of problems that confront Blacks across this nation and developed what they believed were solutions.
However, after a few months it becomes apparent that in order to put their ideas in motion they required financial support and it now becomes grant-writing time. It is apparent that foundations have multi-millions to award programs of their choosing, but does that mean we as a people are totally unable to raise money to champion our own progressions?
There was a breakfast held in a North Side church, and some non-churchgoing persons were laughing at the collection baskets. Some persons who attend church were indignant, but declined to say anything, so I took it upon myself to enlighten a number of confused persons who had no knowledge of what Blacks have been able to accomplish with the collection baskets. I told those who had no history of the Black church that prior to 501-c3 we paid our own way by reaching in our own pockets and filled the baskets up. The results were nursing homes, retirement centers and a large number of colleges.
Do you recall it was reported when the foundations were putting together funds to reopen the August Wilson Center, a person was overheard asking the pertinent question, “What do Black folks do for themselves?”
I was not upset nor angry because, in my estimation, it is a valid question that we as a people must address, because we definitely as a people fail to do what we are capable of doing. It has always been a conviction of mine that we as a people can contribute astronomically more than we do. I was born on a dirt street, Jones Avenue, and by most standards the overwhelming majority of us were listed as being poor. However, no persons ever went hungry, naked, always had fuel to heat because we were a community of not just friendly persons, but friends. Not just neighborly, but neighbors.
In our household, our father and mother instilled in our family that we were rich, and rich was not defined as materialistic, but family, friends and health. Lemington Home, which was founded by Black women and was the first in the state of Pennsylvania, closed years ago and is currently being converted into an apartment building. NAACP local and national offices are in financial difficulty, the Black church, where it all began, is struggling. It is an established fact that the unemployment situation in the Black communities is staggering, but there are millions of us in the Black communities who have substantial incomes that we can share.
I went to the barber shop last week to get a shave, and one of the customers was crying poor mouth and saying, “What we simply cannot do,” and I convinced him to take a brief ride with me so I could prove flaws in his poor mouth arguments. The ride covered about four blocks and I suggested that he count the new cars (the expensive ones). He was absolutely shocked at number of Benz, Cadillacs, BMWs, Lexus, Chrysler 300s, Audis, Rovers, and triple shocked when he realized most were being driven by persons, male and female alike, who don’t live outside the law. I left him with the message, “never say what we as a people can’t do.”
We must do better.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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