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
You are that spark that makes the fire rise. A crown of jewels will rest upon your head for you are God’s child that has been truly blessed! Amen
These are sentiments I received a moment ago from a kindred spirit. I know she would not mind me regifting these empowering words to all who come across this posting. Take a moment to search for your unique spark that makes the fire rise. Do this with disregard for the inevitable outcome. Just do it, knowing that you are indeed a necessary contributor to keeping the flame of humanity burning.
Share with us, sentiments you will re-gift with an explanation as to why.
I told someone about himself the other day, and my husband who was standing right beside me was in agreement with what I had done. I told a salesperson about himself when I said to him, ” You are such a pleasant person; keep on smiling.” His modest, if not bashful response was, “That’s all I can do.” Yes, I have gotten into the habit of “telling people about themselves” and I am really enjoying it. What I wanted that man to know was, that his personable demeanor had a calming effect on random strangers, including me! He needed to be acknowledged for sharing that God-given gift of his with people he encountered while on the job. I wondered whether he had ever been presented with the opportunity to celebrate his exemplary interpersonal skills which made him so perfect for the job. For the record, I knew nothing about this man besides the fact that he worked at the store I was visiting.
As much as I know this subject goes way beyond monetary compensation, I must admit that I walked away hoping that salesperson was being adequately compensated for a job he was so perfect for. Of great importance to me was the hope that my acknowledgement of the way he handled himself served as fuel for him to continue to use his ‘gift’ in such a positive and effortless way to touch lives. I somehow had no doubt he would connect the proverbial dots after having fully recovered from my unorthodox response to what he must have thought came to him quite naturally.
All too often, we are placed in the unfortunate position of responding to unruly service providers and/or their staff as we resort to lodging complaints, taking legal actions in extreme cases, or boycotting businesses. My thinking is that as consumers, we have the ability to create a “new culture” that calls for diligently rewarding good and pleasant behavior of the deserving, at every opportunity we get. + A kind word, a smile, a nod or even a note to management will work wonders! I can just see the scale tipping all the way to the other side as potentially unpleasant workers feel motivated by those who receive an abundance of positive reinforcement for ” good behavior” from customers. This fail-proof motivational tool will not only serve as a high self-esteem booster, for service providers, it will ultimately create a wonderful atmosphere we will have all subscribed to — a great feeling for all concerned! When was the last time you told a salesperson or even a waiter “about themselves”? Give it a try, you might just like it!
” Communicate unto the other person that which you would want him (her) to communicate unto you if your positions were reversed.” – Aaron Goldman –
Madona Cole-Lacy M.A. Ed.
Founder: Your Creative Empowerment, Inc. http://www.yourtime4liny.org
Program Director: My Time Has Come www.mytimehascome.org http:www.twitter.com/MyTimeHasCome1
Creative Director: Madona Cole Originals. www.madonacoleoriginals.com https://twitter.com/MColeOriginals
As we continue to deal with the effects of Sandy’s visit to our area, we must pause for a moment to extend our thoughts and prayers to those affected by the loss of their loved ones. We also hope that the inconvenience caused to those who have been displaced from
their homes, those who have lost irreplaceable items, and those who are without power, will soon be a thing of the past as the local and federal agencies come together to address and render assistance to them.
We must not forget the women, men who have placed their lives on the line as first responders, and the kind and giving volunteers (some youthful) who are always on hand to answer the call. The media have also played a crucial role in working with the local government and first responders. A big ‘Thank You’ is in order for those in the ‘helping business’ as well as those for whom it is second nature to rise to the occasion and operate in the capacity of their brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. It is our hope that, with heightened awareness of the inherent implications, the necessity for rescuers to further endanger their lives as they go in search for people who choose to disregard the call to evacuate their property, will in time be non-existent.
I share these thoughts with you as a part of the reflective process which my experience of hurricane Sandy initiated in me. I have walked away with a closer relationship with adaptability, resourcefulness, selflessness, resiliency, gratitude and more, as a result of my interaction with people from far and wide.
Natural disasters have occurred from time immemorial, and yet it appears as though we have by default viewed these happenings in a segmented and fragmented manner. As human beings, we are blessed with the capability of compassionately and lovingly responding to others (be they strangers, neighbors or associates) in times of crises. This is a wonderful spirit I know I must carry with me at all times, and firmly embrace as that common thread which speaks to a familiarity and togetherness with others that is so special! So special, that I am wondering how one could go about reproducing and maintaining this ‘rush’ at all times – even in the absence of crisis or disaster. How can we keep this fire burning? I would love to hear your unique ideas on how we can maintain a semblance of togetherness, gratitude, compassion, give and take, with everyone we encounter. I am not calling for a ‘blind acceptance’ or the ‘rubber-stamping’ of values that are obviously at odds with and detrimental to our own beliefs. I am talking about connecting with and showing a basic regard for humanity – the appreciation and understanding of the fact that we are all caring, compassionate and capable beings who despite divergent views and experiences, can position ourselves to make a bigger difference in this world with a slight attitude adjustment. I will summarize my desire with this quote , ”All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart”– Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me.