There is a spirit of Black pride in the air. Between the newfound appreciation and recognition of Juneteenth and a top basketball prospect selecting an HBCU, the momentum and movement is multitudinous and undeniable. Even locally, the Memphis Bridge overlooking the Mississippi River was lit up with red, green and black lights for Juneteenth and Lemoyne-Owen College received a historic 40 million dollar endowment. Black Lives Matter protestors have marched peacefully and consistently resulting in cooperative meetings between the Mayor and Police Director surrounding reform. Cynthia Daniels hosted a virtual black business shopping event that generated more than 1 million dollars in sales.
All of these things are exciting and promising and now the posed question is, “Where do we go from here?” What plans and strategies do we have to sustain and grow the revolution?
We see “Black Lives Matter” everywhere. It’s painted on streets, street signs, commercials and businesses advertisements. I have even seen BLM signs displayed by churches.
If I may put forth a suggestion, maybe a formidable next step would be to focus on the quality of black life. Let’s move beyond the scope of police misconduct to affirm that the quality of black life matters. What are we going to do to improve our families, schools and communities? Let’s continue the conversation in-house and at home. Education matters: get your children tutors in elementary schools. Mental stability matters: encourage healthy and productive behaviors. Citizenship matters: Let’s develop our youth so that they become tax-payers, voters and job creators. Estate planning maters: Consciously plan your affairs so your children have the opportunities to become heirs. Leave assets and not burdens. Children in foster care matter: Consider fostering or adopting as there are many black children in need of loving families, healthy models and household structures. Invest in black neighborhoods that you may consider “run down”. Don’t complain about gentrification when we have the same opportunity to rebuild.
Valuing Juneteenth, patronizing black businesses and attending HBCUs are actions we should have been doing all the time. For me black lives matter is a lifestyle, not a trend. It’s in my heart, not just a hashtag.
When COVID passes and sports return; when the NFL is no longer playing “Lift Every Voice and Sing”; when vacations resume and large gatherings are permitted—I hope this momentum will not slowly fade into the background. Let it not take death for us to galvanize and tragedy for us to change. Here’s to hoping the movement turns in a positive but most of all progressive direction. Let’s come together and ensure that our current reflection and redirection is sustained. – EM