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Something to Think About: After a Controversial 2015, Now What?

Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn


michael_vaughn2We have embarked upon a brand new year, and, with it, we have opportunities to see great changes.

While we can make a change at any time during the year, it is always nice to declare a change at the beginning of the New Year.

In 2015, we saw the rise of a movement called “Black Lives Matter,” in response to the number of black people who had been killed by white officers.

The movement’s name has implied an implicit desire for people to understand that black people are indeed people. And, while I do not agree with the manner in which this theme has been presented, I do agree that all lives matter, for black people, white people, unborn people, (babies), etc.

In the spirit of this movement, there has also been discussion on social media regarding how Bill Cosby, a black man, has been treated.

Again, I am not here to argue whether or not he has been treated rightly or wrongly; however, this week, I would like to discuss what comes next.

What these movements, and discussions, seem to have done, is to have kept people emotionally charged by everything that has happened.

In each case of the young black men who were killed by white officers, Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton has shown up.

And, whenever I’ve seen them, I’ve wondered what the motives were, of the people who’ve desired to see these men come to their events, in addition to the motives of Rev. Jackson and Sharpton themselves.

They’ve seemed to come in, grab some media attention, rally people emotionally, maybe do a march, and then leave.

But, if the African-American community desires true change, we must ask the question, ‘Now what?’ It does no good to keep people on an emotional high, which is what the Democratic Party has done in order to continue getting African-American votes, and in effect has caused no lasting change.

What we should do is understand what the problems are that have caused these issues, and then work to rectify them. For example, an increase in the number of African-American police officers may help bring a level of sensitivity to the police force, which would go a long way in changing mindsets, and hearts.

However, as a community, we cannot keep “hating” on the police, and then think we are going to become police officers. If we believe juries are not indicting folks because of their skin color, what we should do is serve on juries. Only then will we hear ALL of the evidence, and then make a rational decision, instead of simply listening to the media, which manages to keep emotions high, but ensure nothing of substance gets done.

There is a lack of African-Americans in the pool of potential jurors. Therefore, when we get a summons for jury duty, we need to perform our civic duty, and serve on the jury.

Other ways we can answer the question of ‘what comes next’ is to ensure that our children have been getting the best education possible. If they become educated, they can become the lawyers, judges, and politicians in the courtrooms.

In these positions, they will then impact the laws of the land.

However, they should not do this in a biased fashion, but in order to take the bias out of the courtroom!

When we see only dollar signs, and think of our children as growing up to be professional athletes instead of pushing them to excel academically; we miss the opportunity to effect much change.

One common thread in each of these answers is that they will all take much more energy than having a rally, doing a march, or staying hyper-emotional.

However, they will have a much, much longer, and lasting impact for African-American culture.

We should search our hearts, and ask what we are doing to have long-lasting impact, as well as whether we are willing to pay the price in order to make a difference. We have to answer the question, ‘Now what?’

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