Resolve to encourage in 2009

By Ernie Brown

A new year is here, and like most other folks, I’ve decided to draw up a list of resolutions, which, if kept, would make 2009 an outstanding year.

This monthly column is primarily geared to the black community, so drawing upon from what I saw in 2008, here are my resolutions I think would make the community better.

First, there must be a re-emphasis on education, and that re-emphasis must begin in the home. I believe the majority of teachers in the Mahoning and Shenango Valley school districts are attempting to do their best to educate our young people. The top teacher in the state of Ohio does her work at Youngstown East High School.

But parents and adult caregivers must place a high premium on making sure children are going to school, doing their homework and getting good grades.

I know that many inner-city children have the odds stacked against them to achieve academic excellence. But is it asking too much for a parent, no matter what his or her job situation is, to encourage their child to be the best in the classroom? Is it asking too much for a parent to talk to a teacher to find out how his child is doing in class and what can be done to help the child do better if the child is struggling? Shouldn’t a parent make sure the child learns about respect and discipline so those two values translate to the school setting?

My mother told all of my teachers when I was in elementary school that if I got out of line or did not follow their instructions in any way, those teachers were to call her and she would make sure the problem would not reoccur. Is that being done today? If not, why not? It is adults who should set the standard, and you don’t have to be rich to do so.

My second resolution is that we must do all we can to prevent black-on-black crime. I have mentioned this problem in this column before, and I will continue to do so.

I have read books and the statistics on the socioeconomic travails in the black community that ultimately lead to violent crime — babies having babies, absentee fathers, child abuse, poverty, etc. In fact, a new study out of Washington, D.C., shows the number of black men and teenagers who either killed or were killed in shootings has risen dramatically since 2000.

I don’t have the solution, but I ask this question: When are we going to get tired of killing and hurting one another?

The annual observance of Kwanzaa just ended. Among the principles of the African-American festival are unity and collective work and responsibility. If we truly embrace and believe in those principles, we should see a decline in violent crimes committed by and against people of color. I believe that can happen in 2009, but it will be necessary for people to make smart choices and avoid placing themselves in situations that can lead to trouble.

My third and final resolution is that we need to do a better job of rallying around our political leaders and supporting them in any way we can. We all know that economic hardships will continue this year. There are no quick fixes for our economy, and many more people are going to lose their jobs. Many politicians are doing their best to create positive conditions that will allow businesses to come here and provide jobs.

We should support those leaders who are looking out for our best interests.

The theme I’m trying to get across is that we must encourage one another. For too long, we have focused on the negatives and have become too cynical.

It is just as easy to give someone a pat on the back as opposed to a kick in the rear. So whatever it takes for you to make 2009 a better year for you and your community — prayer, selflessness, recommitment to doing good — start it today and keep it going the whole year.

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