As I take stock of all that I have learned about the rich history and culture of Black Americans, and Black pioneers around the world as a whole, during the month of February that has been officially designated for the observance of Black History, I cannot help but ask myself how that knowledge and the accompanying mindset can be translated into respect and regard for self and others. My hope is that a large number of us have made a worthwhile contribution to lifting up and keeping Black History alive by engaging in activities and participating in events that can only help people of the human race understand that there is indeed a common denominator inherent in all citizens of the world that is anything but common. For there is so much more to this “common” denominator. It is binding, it is healing, and possesses the ability to forgive and assuage fear and ignorance…and yes, it can quite easily yield the opposite result when it is not given the attention it needs to flourish.
In addition to my contribution to the Black History Month enrichment process, I was blessed with knowledge that I otherwise would not have received had it not been for those who made major contributions by sharing so many “Firsts” by Blacks that were virtually unknown to the masses before now. I was elated to see establishments make a move towards spotlighting people of African descent here on Long Island – a move whose time had come, in light of the unsettling racial climate in this country.
I invite fellow Americans and African Americans to join me in enjoying this sense of pride and desire to understand the rich legacy of people around us, in a manner that will stay with us way beyond the last day of February.
As America welcomes Women’s History Month; followed by Asian Pacific American Heritage, Older Americans Month and Jewish American Heritage Month in May; I want to take it upon myself to ask everyone who understands the need for these special observances, to plan on making some move toward gaining a little bit more knowledge of and appreciation for the spotlighted groups.I hope that those who do not understand will be open to a briefing from those who do. This, of course, is only a sampling of other significant upcoming observances of various ethnic and special interest groups that make up the diverse fabric of the American culture!
Let it be known that as I make this request, it would not surprise me in the least to learn that some would say, “Why should I care about this or that group?” My response to that question is as follows: If for no other reason that is remotely obvious to you, you should care because the bliss of ignorance must be superseded by the folly of wisdom if we expect to be treated with respect, empathy and even sympathy when it is our turn. We cannot allow the unwillingness to make wholesome connections to lead us down the path of ignorance.
Newsday Jan 24 2016 (‘Dynamic, multi-ethnic art’- page E6)
The tone has been set with Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday and Black History Month Cultural Enrichment activities leading the way to more opportunities for Americans to find that common thread that runs through the fabric of mankind. Let us not miss out on the power of cultural enrichment and social enlightenment that will subscribe to the greatness and security of our neighborhoods and country. What we do with this opportunity will augment the process through which we can make the world a more congenial place in which we can all proudly take on the responsibility of healthy engagement, and build a firmer foundation on which the next generation of the human race can stand. This mindset, by the way, is race, ethnic and gender neutral; and calls for those who are now referred to as “those people” to be equally engaged and appreciated by those who may not have given this a thought in the past.
In conclusion, I would like to offer executable tips on ways we can go about obtaining and maintaining a much-needed cultural enrichment, social enlightenment and racial harmony.
The following starter ideas can, in part, be attributed to my observations last month
- Don’t exclude yourself from discussions that are meant to uplift, empower and educate-in person, on LinkedIn, on Facebook or other social media portals-simply because you can’t see yourself relating to “those people”.“Those people” exist in all neighborhoods on all corners of the world, and could use some refreshing input laced with sensitivity and a desire to connect in a healthy way with them.
- Make it a point to converse with an associate or co-worker whose race, ethnicity or social group is being celebrated at the time. This would work well within group settings of professional and community organizations where, more often than not, people are brutally prejudged.
- If you have young children or teenagers in your life, hold a discussion with them to find out their opinion on, or knowledge of the culture or history of the highlighted group for that month. Don’t forget to share helpful resources with them. Encourage them to hold discussions with seniors in the community. This can be arranged with Senior Centers, Churches, Synagogues, Mosques etc.
- Go on a themed exploratory trip to the library, utilize google, see what Wikipedia has to say and visit museums, art galleries and other places that can assist you with a horizon-broadening experience. Write a poem on your impression, do a painting or come up with your own creative form of self-expression that would suggest growth.
- Remember that you can neither be held responsible for the atrocities your ancestors might have perpetrated on others nor be pigeonholed as the ultimate helpless victim of circumstance, if you don’t conduct yourself in ways that bring to life the negativity of past experiences or support the perpetuation of the selfless victim syndrome. We cannot wish away the mistakes of the past, but we can surely work toward improving the present climate that we have inherited by acknowledging the resulting pain, hurt and confusion; and formulating a language that will generate camaraderie and healing instead of stone-throwing, name-calling and worse!
- When in doubt, show LOVE, connect with EMPATHY and unleash KINDNESS. These three tools are versatile enough and come in color schemes that do not ever lose their luster without much effort on the part of mankind.
- Cast aside the built-in suspicion which invariably leads to defense mechanisms that keep your radar up in the company of people you are meeting for the first time. Be open to interacting with people from whom you may potentially learn something new.
- Be genuine in your interactions with others. People tend to switch off when they realize that they are dealing with the disingenuous.
West African Surface Design Workshop conducted in observance of Black History Month. Wear Your Art: An African-Inspired textile designing workshop.
Since I haven’t quite decided on a suitable term to adequately capture how I feel, I will settle for one that conveys the most predominant feeling right now. It is with humility that I embrace this time of my life, to reconnect with the world, and make a deliberate and significant stride toward normalcy since the recent passing of my father. As one who prides herself on being a perpetual student of life’s lessons, I must acknowledge a major loss such as this, as one which I have also viewed within the context of the psyche of Family Adult Caregivers around the world. I share your loss and feel your pain, even as I ‘hear’ my Papa urging me to keep the ball rolling, and to never lose sight of my goal! The drive to keep going should never leave us! I, not unlike a host of other adult children of the recently departed, have a lot to be thankful for when I take stock of the rich legacy my father left behind, not just for me, but for many others around the world. I feel ever so blessed!
Getting Back On Track
With the support of my Board, Program Director, Volunteers and Well-Wishers; I am looking forward to the upcoming Your Time For Community Networking Soiree – an opportunity for Long Island’s high school students, as well as current college-bound high school graduates, to experience an intergenerational professional and social relationship with a diverse pool of male and female community role models representing the arts, business & and professional world, academia, human services and local politics.
All Participants can look forward to interacting with an impressive line-up of motivational presenters and Resource Persons which includes current college students, professors, medical doctors, community activists and faith based leaders, mental health practitioners, and public officials – all of whom care about the well-being and academic success of our youth.
Other highlights include: lunch, entertainment, high tea, beauty and heath activities, giveaways and more!
If you have a burning desire to touch the lives of our youth in a special way, and would like to be a part of this initiative, kindly contact us.
For more details please visit our website: www.yourtime4liny.org
Most people will tell you they do not need to be told how to parent their children. While that may be the case, it is not unusual to find that these same parents have been wired to respond, more so, to the negative or destructive behaviors of their children than to the positives. What is unfortunate about zeroing in only on the negative, is that we lose out on the opportunity to provide a serious empowering process that our children can take with then as they step out into the world to become their own persons. By only responding to the negative, we also teach them not to acknowledge others who are doing their best to be productive citizens. These parents assume the posture that “this is what is expected of them, I don’t have to fuss over them for that”.
Luckily for us, we are now living in a society in which an inordinate amount of good and tailored options are offered to those who care to explore ways that do not keep them stuck at the “children are supposed to ‘do as I say’, and the ‘do because I said so’ culture”.
It is with all that I have said in mind, that I ask you to accommodate me while I publicly declare the elation and pride that I feel as the mother of Samuel Branch, of whom the article speaks. I am not only proud of my son for his passionate resolve to be the best that he can be in the field of graphic design, I am also proud of his friends who were at his senior show. Kudos to the students whose enthusiasm and sensitivity made the art installation process very much a part of the show. It was such a heart-warming experience to witness this! I must also congratulate Katie Webb, for an article so well-written. It is obvious that she herself is making full use of her education at Hofstra. It is clear that the parents have played a major role in making these young adults so worthy of the praise and admiration I so freely give. Congratulations to the parents!
I suspect there are many takes on Mommy and Daddy blessings out there. Please feel free to share yours.
Last, but not least, I must acknowledge my husband, Samuel’s Dad, without whose ‘One James’ peach cobbler, the show would not have been complete.
FORM: Sam Branch’s graphic design senior show
Posted by hofstra chronicle on Saturday, December 14, 2013.
By Katie Webb Arts & Entertainment Editor
Vibrant, color-blocked, mosaic images composed of 35 sheets that are 11 inches by 17 incheson the walls of the this week, Dec. 9–13. The , “Vector Variegations,” is the senior art show of fine arts major Samuel Branch.
Congratulations to Devon Harris, motivational speaker, author and founder of the Keep On Pushing Foundation, on being honored for his community service by New York’s Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano at the Caribbean American Festival on Saturday, June 15, 2013.
Mr. Harris, also of Jamaican Bobsled fame, has for the past two years been an avid supporter of Long Island’s non-profit, Your Time For Creative Empowerment, Inc. and the My Time Has Come Program. These long island based programs have been served well by Mr. Harris’ captivating and spirited motivational presentations to parents and youth.
Also honored were:
Mr. Ron Clahar – Principal of Pat -Kam School and Early Childhood Center
Ms. Lorna Lewis – Superintendent of the Plainview Old Bethpage CSD & Adjunct Professor at Hofstra University
Mr. Lennox O. Price – Consul General of Barbados to New York.
We congratulate all of these honorees for the exemplary work they are doing in their respective fields and communities.
Your Time For Creative Empowerment, Inc. engages in activities designed to empower youth & families by providing tools for handling the challenges and pitfalls of life in the 21st Century through the use of the arts, fashion and culture alongside creative personal development and behavioral modalities.
My Time Has Come Program is an art-related cultural and social enrichment enterprise which offers workshops to teachers, students and community organizations. My Time Has Come Program promotes tolerance to racial, cultural, ethnic and generational differences; fosters a sense of belonging, accomplishment and pride gained from the creation of well executed culturally inspired works of art; and develops skills in the use of hand-crafted textile designs and contemporary, multi-cultural visual arts techniques.
Author: Madona Cole-Lacy, MA Ed.
Founder: Your Time For Creative Empowerment, Inc.
Program Director/ Facilitator: My Time Has Come Program