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Time For A Change
10/1/2014 5:12:37 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

There are some things that are so painful that we just can’t forget them. And those things that cause us so much pain remain with us forever. When we fail to get involved in issues that impact our lives, we do our children and forefathers a disservice. If we fail to work for change, our lives and that of our children would be just like a dog running around in circles chasing his tail. We will never get out of the circle.

Whenever a community meeting is called and folks don’t show up, I remember how someone fought for me. And, I must be there fighting for those who cannot or refuse to fight for themselves. The haunting question is “have we given up on ourselves?” What is it that makes us so complacent? We can’t stand in the shadows of our ancestors forever? What is it about this generation that is so defiant? What is it about the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and even Emmett Till for that matter that we don’t understand? What is it about the lunch counter demonstrations that folks don’t understand? Do you think that blacks converged on lunch counters just to eat? Do you think black folks revolted against drinking water out of “colored” faucets because the water tasted bad or using outhouses because they could not use “white only” restrooms?

What is it about the demonstration in Ferguson, Mo that you don’t understand? It comes a time when folks get sick and tired of being taken advantage of. According to Time Inc. Network, In 1990 Ferguson was a middle class suburban town with 75% white population. Trending forward, twenty-four years later, Ferguson has become a predominately black suburb with little representation in government or on the police force. It comes a time when folks say enough is enough. After the killing of unarmed Michael Brown by a police officer, the majority black community of Ferguson faced up to the reality of their situation. They realized that they were victims of themselves. Blacks in Ferguson were faced with the inevitable choice, do we remain in the valley of despair or do we climb out? With their backs up against the wall, they decided to come out fighting. What did they have to lose?

Do you think the folks at Hursey and Murray LaSaine Elementary Schools are fighting to have traditional education at their schools because they have nothing else to do? They are fighting for options and equity for all children. And, what is it that folks outside of McClellanville don’t understand about folks in the community fighting for a new school? Lincoln High School should have been declared uninhabitable after Hurricane Hugo. Hurricane Hugo forced local residents who had taken up shelter in the school into the attic and onto the roof. There is no way that school was cleaned of all of the mold and contaminants left behind from Hurricane Hugo. Generations of children have had to endure health issues that are sure to surface sooner than later. And, whatever happened to the insurance money. Where was that money spent? The folks at Lincoln High are sick and tired of the neglect by the school board. Like Ferguson, the community has decided to fight to the finish for a first class facility for their children.

There is something inherently wrong when we lose trust in each other. We walk past black businesses and spend our money with people who will not step foot through our doors. I have been around a few corners and bends in my lifetime and I have yet to see a Chinese in a soul food restaurant.

When I think about how hard I have worked to improve and maintain my home, while white homes that are not even comparable are priced higher, I realize that the battle is still before me. When I think of the highway robbery interests I have had to pay on loans or mortgages, I must continue to fight for equity. And when folks ask me why are you fighting when you don’t have children in school, my response is this: An educated and informed society is the responsibility of everyone. And I strongly believe that the best solution to bring about change and to eradicate racism is education.

Young people, I challenge you to get involved with your children. Attend school and board meetings. It doesn’t matter if you can’t make every meeting. It doesn’t matter if you can’t dot every “i” and cross every “t”. Just show up! Don’t stay away because you didn’t finish school. Your children just need to see you at school and know that you care.

Our fight is our fight! We cannot forget or abandon it. We cannot expect others to do for us what we should be doing for ourselves. It’s voting time and it’s a good time to make changes. Are y’all listening?

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