83 years ago, seven educators had the audacity to form a union in what was commonly known as "Klan-diana." Mary Lou Allison Gardner Little, Dorothy Hanley Whiteside, Hattie Mae Annette Dulin Redford, Vivian White Marbury, Bessie Downey Rhoades Martin, Nannie Mae Gahn Johnson, and Cubena McClure stepped outside of the status quo to strive toward scholarship, sisterhood and service. Together they formed what is now known as Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
In honor of their sacrifice and bravery, today I rededicate myself to using the best that is within me to further its cause. Too often we as a people "arrive" and try to put who we are behind us. We have come so far, but have further still to go. We cannot afford to be complacent if we intend to move ahead. And I sure as hell have no intentions of staying where I am.
When I first moved to Pittsburgh, the most difficult thing for me to grasp was the fact that the National Pan Hellenic Council, which supposedly encompasses our best and brightest, is nearly non-existent. And not from a lack of people, but from a lack of purpose. Through my search for area young Black professionals I perused the internet and stumbled upon the Urban League. Their site directed me to the Urban League Young Professionals of Pittsburgh. Excellent. Just what I'm looking for. Then it took no less than 3 weeks to get a response, and even then it was half-hearted. So let me get this straight. You want me to give you local dues of $50 to do what? And you can't tell me about what your organization is doing right now? I really can't do that. And I didn't even consider the NAACP. Why would I? They're not doing anything in any other city. Why are we letting the organization that have gotten us this far die?
Its time out for just accepting what is thrown at us. Its time to make a difference. I'm challenging everyone reading this to step up. While the rest of the world is moving ahead, we are falling far behind. America in general, Black people in specific. Right now I'm reading "Blood Done Sign My Name" by Timothy B. Tyson. Its an autobiographical account of the event that changed a white man's life. One day when he was ten-years-old, his friend said, "Daddy and Roger shot 'em a nigger." This book goes on to recount events that happened to Black people as a result of their refusal to leave things up to chance. I'm maybe 1/4 of the way through this book and its already re-awakened my fervor and activism for my people. It wasn't gone, it's just hard to act on when you see so much that needs to be done.
I have a lot of extremely lofty goals. I always have. I know that I am destined to succeed. Its inevitable. I want to bring people up with me. Its frustrating to see people struggling with no desire to change. I have two friends that are working in predominately Black schools. I had a real problem with the public school system in America, its just remanifested itself within their collective experiences.
I was educated in a public school. However, because I grew up in a predominately white neighborhood, I never had the problem of having inexperienced teachers, subpar equipment and books, or general apathy in my school. These are the types of things that Black children encounter daily. I am diametrically opposed to private schools. First because they were created as a means to further segregation in this country at a time when it was already illegal. Second, because we pay taxes to provide free, quality educations to our children. So why should I pay for it?
Like I was saying, my line sister teaches in Guilford County (NC) Schools. This is the same school system that socially promoted Fantasia to the point where today she is functionally illiterate. Those problems are still there today, and not just in Guilford County. The inegalitarian system that is in place now is unacceptable. And its predicated upon people being unwilling to demand a change. The current system, in every state, allows for "black" and "white" schools. And there is a marked difference in the two. That. Is. Wrong. When the Swann case was re-opened in Charlotte and several years ago, it made neighborhood schools acceptable again. Nearly every neighborhood in America is segregated. Turning over this case essentially reinstituted segregated schools.
My other friend teaches in Baltimore. I know. Rough. And that's a problem. You shouldn't hear Baltimore public schools and think, "Wow, your friend is real reckless with her life." But you do. She is a junior English teacher with many kids that are 18 and 19-years-old, have at least one child, and most importantly cannot read. The vast majority of these children (they seemed SO young when I went there) have no intention of ever going to college. What are we doing to our community?
That is why its time for us to step up. We consider ourselves the black elite, the best and brightest, the "Talented Tenth" (I hate that elitist, divisive term), or whatever else you need to call yourself for motivation. To whom much is given, much is required. So ante up. Whatever your talent and passion is, you need to use it to help your people. Get off your ass. I know this started out all positive and pretty, but I got worked up. Deal with it.