Today was interesting. It started with me pulling the sheets over my head, wishing I didn’t have to go to work. As I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was tired from working and traveling all day yesterday, and I didn’t get to my hotel until almost midnight. Nevertheless, I got up. Took a shower. Brushed my teeth. Brushed my hair. Organized my things and drove to work. I had to support a community-led event in a town located a few minutes from my hotel.
When I arrived at my destination, which was a community center in the city of Grambling, Louisiana, I was met by an elderly lady. For your information, Grambling is one of the oldest African-American cities in the United States, as it originated from a community of former slaves who acquired property. It’s a small community. Yet, I feel there is a spirit of respect here. which stems from a community-wide feeling of ownership.
This elderly lady was a sponsor of the event and also a leader of the community. We spent the majority of the day talking. Well, she did most of the talking 🙂 . I mostly listened to her wealth of knowledge, as her life experiences and intellect truly captivated me. We conversed on a wide range of topics. Topics ranging from the history of the city of Grambling, specific struggles (whether in education or in various aspects of life) of previous generations of African-Americans, various specifics on how state government affects rural communities, her experiences at Princeton, the roles and responsibilities of local elected officials, etc.
We talked for hours. Though I awoke this morning thinking/expecting to serve all day, I was blessed to be served… with knowledge.
Out of everything we discussed, what really stood out was her thoughts and opinions regarding the idea of community investment.
Her words made me stop to think… “Am I investing in my community? How am I investing in my community? How do I determine what/where my community is, and what it is not… especially in this virtual world of social media relationships?”
Essentially, investing is basically giving something with the intention to get something in return. When I think of investing in my community, I immediately think of investing economically. Buying groceries from local markets, shopping at local restaurants, stuff like that. She shifted my thinking to another level. And, I need to start being more concerned about school boards, city council members, offices of community development, how my city can apply for federal funding, etc.
In the past community investment was more about teachers disciplining children at school… every adult was like a parent. Neighbors were more willing to help each other, and so forth. Now, in many cases parents have trouble being invested in the lives of their own children, as both parents generally work. It’s now more important than ever to NOT just to have a family, but a community.
There are real problems that exist now, which occur because many people do not have an invested interest in their community. Many communities do not have summer activities for kids. There is a generation of adults who have a false sense of reality due to social media and games, and them not being properly disciplined.
Spoken plainly… I feel many people live a selfish lifestyle. Everyone is a victim… no one wants to be responsible for their life or be accountable for anything. Society has separated us by gender, sex, race, social status, education, etc. Even though society is more connected, I feel people are also more isolated. Nothing of value can be accomplished by working alone.
“It takes a village to raise a child.”African Proverb
The last few weeks I spent time working a few public housing developments. It pains me to see single black women raising 3-5 children, or older black women raising their grandchildren while living in public housing apartments. It hurts my heart to speak to adults who don’t know how to spell their name. Or be around adults who smell like a gas station’s public restroom.
Life is hard. We all need help. I write this blog only to strengthen our desire to invest in one another. It’s not easy. In everything… use wisdom. Spend some time with your neighbor. Go to a city council meeting. Vote. Grow some vegetables. Volunteer at a church. Call a friend. Don’t be silent about injustice. Learn something new, invest in yourself… so you can help someone else.