By JEFFREY SWAIN
Black people are too gifted to let one election hinder our progress. We’ve survived slavery, segregation and suppression. Nothing has stopped us. We’ve always fought for ourselves, always faced the reality and always forged ahead. What is this talk of despair? We are a strong people of class, purpose and achievement. Here’s what we should do now:
First, think entrepreneurially. Open businesses that serve our communities and stop wasting money. Dollars must circulate in black businesses. Your lawyer ought to be black. Your doctor ought to be black and so should your accountant, barber or hairstylist, etc. Use technology to find businesses that are black-owned. Ask the question before you spend. Asians, Jews and Mormons do this to their benefit. Did you know that black Americans wield $1 trillion in buying power? Second, take full advantage of free public education. There are more than 98,000 public schools in America that serve more than 55 million students. Public schools are often wrongly compared to private or charter schools that can be selective or do not deal with issues of overcrowding. Public education remains unchallenged as the best means for black social uplift and solvency for our black families.
Black people must unapologetically demand academic excellence from our children. Too many black children leave high school, per Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, with the equivalent of an eighth-grade education, illiterate or poor in math skills. What are they doing in class? Dr. Joycelyn Lawrence (Spelman College) is a Miami pediatrician. Dr. Hazel Dean (Spelman College) is at the Center for Disease Control. Dr. Darlene Goring (Howard University) is a law professor at Tulane University. All of them were my classmates at Miami Northwestern Senior High School and all are products of HBCUs – historically black colleges and universities. Public schools do this every day.
Third, send our best academic students to HBCUs – Howard, Morehouse, Spelman, Texas Southern, and others. Florida Memorial University, south Florida’s only HBCU, offers unparalleled aviation and science programs. Your children will be taught by well-trained black scholars. High-performing students can be successful anywhere. Reginald Lewis, who purchased the Beatrice Food Corporation and was one of our first black billionaires, went to Virginia State University. Director Spike Lee and actor Samuel L. Jackson have a Morehouse pedigree. HBCUs produce the majority of black doctors and teachers.
Why are black athletes enriching majority white institutions? Subtract black athletes from the University of Alabama or any highly successful college. Why do we give majority institutions our best? Grambling gave us Doug Williams, the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Mississippi Valley State University gave us Jerry Rice, the National Football League leader in receiving yards. Jackson State University gave us Walter Payton, who was the leading rusher in the NFL. Southern University gave us Avery Johnson, former NBA Coach and NBA Champion with the San Antonio Spurs. There are too many others to name. There is no excuse for not supporting HBCUs. They produce results.
Fourth, return to your faith community. Put yourself in a position to be internally strong. Faith gives you the ability to transcend the moment. You alone are not powerful enough to face the problems of a 2017 world. You must appeal to the power vested in you by God. All you need do is look at the history of black folk everywhere to know that faith has sustained us. We are a spiritually driven people, not slackers. “We have come this far by faith.”
Jeffrey Dean Swain, Ph.D., is the dean of Campus Ministry at Florida Memorial University, an assistant professor of Criminal Justice and author A World of Color. Jeffrey.firstname.lastname@example.org