On Civility And Community

Civility – (noun) formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech

Y’all… I know I’ve been silent. I have words but I’m scared to put them on the page for all to read/comment/judge. However, I feel like it would be disingenuous to keep silent about this issue.

I want to put this disclaimer out there right now, I will not hesitate to delete your comment if you are rude in any way. Let us use this forum as a place we can be honest yet civil with each other.

Now, with that being said, I want to start off by saying I think it’s terrible that in the year 2014, 50 years since the Civil Rights Act, we are still dealing with inherent racism in this country. I will admit that I am one to give in to stereotypes. I admit that I am quick to judge instead of being quick to act in love. Even so, I cannot wrap my mind around the stuff that happens on a daily basis for many Blacks and Hispanics in this country. YouTube is a powerful medium and there have been many videos shared where police are blatantly discriminating against those who are doing no wrong.

You hear it over and over, someone is stopped while out on their morning run because the police officer assumed they were up to no good when in fact they were running in their OWN NEIGHBORHOOD, someone else is stopped while walking along the street because they happened to have their hands in their pockets and were looking suspicious when in fact it was merely cold outside and they were keeping warm. The stories go on and on.

The flip side of this story are the cases where people have been up to no good and have made a bad example for the others. Case in point, all the looting and riots. I’m all for our right to protest. This is what makes this country great. However, you lose that right when you cross the line into destructive behavior. No one has the right to damage another’s property.

I’m so torn over this issue. I genuinely feel for those raising young black men in this country and the challenges they will face. On the other hand, I see young adults (of all races) making poor choices in dress and attitude and decision making that only perpetuates the problem. So, what are we to do? How are we to make a solid change for the better?

Many of you know that I am quite interested in early childhood development and I have done much research into behavior and modeling and I have read statistic after statistic that shows the greatest influence on a child is within the home. Knowing this, how can we ever make a difference? It’s not just the bad neighborhoods that influence outcomes but the support system at home that has a greater impact.

My husband, Craig, always says that if we would all just worry about ourselves a little more and stop worrying about others we’d all be better off. I feel like he means that if we focused more on our own household we could make a better impact on the world. How do we, then, get folks to “worry about their own household” when they are working minimum wage jobs and traveling sometimes 3-4 hours daily on a bus to get to and from work? What are these children to do when left to their own devices?

This is where better childhood intervention and education comes into play. I’m not sure if you’ve read about the Harlem Children’s Zone and the impact of Geoffrey Canada‘s programs are having on that community. They currently have a 92% college acceptance rate among other varying success rates within their community groups. We see that this is a model that works. Beginning with birth we are to educate the parents on “parenting” behaviors. Early childhood education and intervention benefits all socio-economic groups. For every dollar invested in quality early care and education saves taxpayers up to $13.00 in future costs.

So, knowing this, we can sit back and complain or we can do something. I would encourage you all to get involved in some way in a high-poverty area and lets put action to our thoughts and words. I would encourage you not just to donate to Toys For Tots or Operation Christmas Child but serve the “least of these” by volunteering your time at a youth center or school, helping with a homeless ministry or prison ministry, becoming a big brother or big sister.

This year lets really work together to make a difference in our community.