06 Cropped Jones photoThe wait for the announcement of the presidency had the world on edge. Now, the wait for the Inauguration has us waiting again. The world is already exhausted. 2020 has been a series of “for the first time ever” or “once in a lifetime” moments. When exhaustion sets in, the body needs rest. The world needs rest. America needs rest. The Black community needs rest.

Losing Nipsey Hussle and then Kobe Bryant caused a shift for the better and the worst. As a Black man, I loved seeing the world celebrate “our” heroes. On the flipside, we lost someone we grew to know and love.
Months later, a pandemic took hold of the world, forcing us in the house and under face masks. The death rate has risen around the world. A cough could mean a death sentence. Everyone learned a new word, ‘quarantine.’ For some, there was a gain. Life slowed down, allowing the allocation of time for the things that matter like family and rest. As time passed, the world was growing restless.

While sitting in our homes waiting for some sort of good news to get “BACK TO NORMAL,” we were shown an 8 minute, 46 second clip of a cop in Minnesota kneeling on the neck of a man born in my hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina, named George Floyd. The streets erupted immediately. The last time there was this fast of a reaction was when Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. But, there was still one difference between then and now. COVID-19, the sickness caused by the novel coronavirus, was holding the world hostage. Protests and civil unrest would break out everywhere including Fayetteville.

Soon, the world would hear what we have been saying all along, BLACK LIVES MATTER. These three words have never meant so much. However, the commercialization of the phrase has led to a negative connotation among those who lack understanding of what it means to be Black in America. As chants, cheers and fires filled the streets of the world, many would watch distraught and in disbelief as the events unfolded. When the flames died and symbols (of heritage or oppression, depending upon your beliefs) came down, there was no unity in the community.

Back in 2016, a New York businessman would assume the role of President of the United States of America, causing a shift in culture and the way American politics are viewed. While money filled our pocket, hate filled our hearts. We forgot the meaning of community. Neighbors have become enemies. Political ideologies weigh more than love for your fellow man. The community is always prefaced by words such as “Black,” “white” or “LGBTQ.” We have forgotten that the Constitution of America begins with three words, WE THE PEOPLE. As Americans, we all want equal opportunity to the rights guaranteed to us under these laws that govern the lands we all inhabit. America is attempting to heal itself through gaining knowledge and understanding of the “other side.” Discomfort coupled with perception leads to a closed mind. A closed mind can never obtain and process the knowledge that fuels progress. Progress is a process. America has just completed a part of the process by voting.

As we wait on the result of the most pivotal election we have experienced since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, we must reflect and ask “What am I doing in my everyday life to better my community and myself?” “How do I add to the value of life of those I encounter?” and “Will this help me grow as a person?”

No matter the results of this election, we must focus on building a better world for those who will inherit it from us. Voting was not the end of the process, but a part of the process. The next step is accountability. We, as a community, must come together and hold leaders and ourselves accountable.

As a chosen leader in my community, especially the Black community, I understand that one must govern themselves accordingly because stepping out the house you become a representation of everyone that looks like you. However, working to change the narrative or personal elevation should not be met with labels of “sellout” or “coon” because we don’t understand. We should focus on the content of their character, as we should with every person we meet. That is what will bring the unity that we need to get the change so many world citizens took to the streets seeking.

We all have to be the change that we want to see. Now is the time to rebuild and start with the strongest foundation of all, no matter who you are, and that foundation is LOVE.

Peace, salute to every activist getting active.

Pictured: Local activist Rakeem "Keem" Jones speaks to a crowd on the importance of social justice. (Photo by Jamela Carter)

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