by Michael Graves, Originally posted on the Times-News 6.18.16
I watched at a recent Burlington Housing Authority event where volunteers were being recognized for their work and The Holy Comforter Church had adopted Newlin Elementary School. Newlin is around 95 percent low income and minority and the Holy Comforter is mostly an all-white congregation. Now I think that’s great because all kids are everybody’s responsibility no matter what the race but I did question where were the churches on Apple Street, Those predominately black churches have just as much responsibility for the future of these kids as The Holy Comforter. This is not about race but about responsibility. I saw many black men in their being recognized and I applaud them individually but condemn the black community as a whole and our churches collectively. Not enough!
The only thing that will help our kids, all kids, and what I call the E exchange program is if they offer to lay their guns down and cease all criminal activity including gang activity and in exchange we offer them education, economics and environment.
Quality education is the first key and we must stop debating that, it’s a non-brainer. Let’s move on to that next subject. Next we must offer hope in the form of economics, in short a job. In today’s society kids don’t have patience and they desire all the new gadgets which some families cannot afford so they go out in get it by any means necessary. Again, before some of you get on your high horse and say they should wait some kids are out there hustling just to take care of their basic needs or maybe that of a little brother and in some cases I have seen a child taking care of an entire family.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs says we all we try to take care of our basic needs. Next we need to offer a change in the environment that they live. Just because you live in a certain part of town does not mean that side has to be stigmatized or branded with the scarlet letter “H” for “Hood.” By allowing certain things to happen on one side of town that would never be permitted on the other is an invitation to a slow decline of that area, but when the black community figures out that there are voting polls on the east side that are not being used much and then start using them, watch what happens.
Here is the framework of a plan. Now it’s time to execute and implement with people who want change and for those who need it!