Last weekend I was fortunate to attend the Congressional Black Caucus 2010 Annual Legislative Conference at the Washington DC Convention Center.
The CBC brands itself as an institution on a global mission to help advance the global Black community by developing leaders and educating the public on a myriad of issues such as health care, economic development, education and other equally important issues that exist within our community and across our nation.
During my visit in the nation’s capital, I was fortunate to attend several outstanding CBC sponsored panels, forums and other events where issues germane to the Black community were discussed. At the same time I met a lot of interesting people from varying backgrounds with an understanding of the problems facing Black America. I walked away from those thoughtful meetings and conversations knowing that as a community we have a long road ahead of us.
Because of that, we have to challenge ourselves to be part of the solutions to address the many compounding problems of Blacks. Our failure to do so would mean that we will have to continue dealing with the same problems, and at the next CBC meeting it will be another rhetorical festival instead of a solution oriented session.
We can all agree that saving our community starts with saving Black children. They are the future and no discussion about enhancing our community can be held without taking into consideration the role our children have to play.
Too often I hear some of us talk about how important it is for young people to be part of the transformative process, and yet we are not willing to involve them in the process.
If Black children are expected to take the mantle of leadership, we have to invest in generation Y. That investment includes not just educating them about the challenges of today’s complex world, but also exposing them to opportunities that would allow them to work hard, thrive and not just exist in vacuum.
We cannot allow the mass media, streets, peers and the music that often glorifies thug life, drugs and sex raise our children. I believe the problem lies in what we have accepted to be done to our children. That is why so many of them, even in their formative years, have become so jaded that they have nothing else left but crying out aloud for mentorship.
One of our most cherished but hardly embraced jewels in the Black community is mentorship. Our children are crying out for mentorship, but very few of us are extending a helping hand. And those being in single parent households don’t have an excuse either. Being a single parent should not be a deficiency for raising your child and offering them the needed mentorship toward a meaningful future.
One of the most striking conversations was with a gentleman who narrated the story of an ex-convict who is now a prison reformer. The ex-convict wrote after his incarceration that he never met a judge until he was being convicted, never met a lawyer until he was aiding him to prison, and never met a doctor until he was being treated for gunshot wounds. The lesson in this is that mentorship is key to addressing some of the issues, like the prison industrial complex.
Despite the bevy of heavyweights in politics, business, media, law and medicine reflecting some of the best in Black America that attended the CBC conference, I wondered how many are taking time out of their busy schedule to mentor a child?
All of us should be challenged to be part of the solution and mentor children who need and are looking for guidance.
As the African adage puts it, “It takes a village to raise a child.” So we must come together to raise our children. Without our young people there is no future for the Congressional Black Caucus or our community. We may raise hell and protest with beautiful placards, yet our problems will remain the same if we fail to empower tomorrow’s leaders.
I am ready. Are you?
Reaghan Amyre Wainwright is the author of “RAW Word,” a daily inspirational message. Currently she mentors for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Atlanta. She also works with Outreach Inc., Model Mission and in various capacities with the Girl Scouts of America. A native of Atlanta, Ga., Wainwright graduated from Spelman College with a degree in psychology. She is currently an account executive for Equifax Information Systems in Atlanta where she serves on the Community Affairs Committee which selects, spearheads and executes all corporate community initiatives