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The H3O/Art of Life Blog

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Community Matters

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

By Dr. Gloria Latimore-Peace

Presented by Omni-University

Once upon a time, We had our land, our culture, and our minds...*

This H30/ Art of Life Blog grew out of exchanges, during a recent  Family Prayer Meeting, in response to the question of whether or not it was/is desirable or productive to call the National Guard into the areas that are besieged by "black- on- black" crime. The discussion quickly became centered on what we, ourselves, could do to quell the epidemic of violence that  continues to escalate.

With all respect due to Black people, I use the term "area(s)" rather than "community(ies) "when referring to the places where we reside. This is because my experience with the  concept of "community"goes beyond its superficial  meaning as "a group of related neighborhoods". Such a definition implies that  a "community" can be constituted of people who have no more in common than that the individuals or families live in close proximity to each other. You don't have to be a Black person who resides in a majority White community to know that residency does not a community make.

The sociological definition of a community as "a group of people who share values" is  more illuminating since It  accurately depicts the nature of a community. Even so, there is an even  more compelling reason for questioning the use of "community" , as it applies to Black people. In "Home Is Dirty Street: The Social Oppression of Black Children", Useni Eugene Perkins coined the most precise term by combining the terms "ghetto" and "colony" hence "Ghettcolony". A ghetto is defined as "a part of a city, especially a slum area, occupied by a minority or group". A colony is "a country or area under the political control of another country". The areas where Black and poor people reside have variously been called "ghetto" /"inner city"/slums"and so on but, never a colony.  Brother Useni has told us like it is.  We pause here for a quick review of the social studies lessons we were taught about colonies, specifically, the  Thirteen (13) American colonies, whose occupants waged an 8-year war( 1775-1783) for Independence from the tyranny of external control by the British. This apt depiction is evidence that a colony is not a desirable place to live. And, it is not likely that we will fare any better with more military among us than the Colonists did with the "Red Coats" in their midst. 

But, whether or not a people who live in a Ghettcolony can determine what goes on there, or who or what comes in, is not a matter for conjecture. For example, It is a matter of fact, as in the case of far too many movements initiated by Black people to improve the quality of their lives, that the struggle for "community control of schools" was co-opted by groups with other interests. The objective was soon to become community "involvement" and "participation" but not in the decision- making process which was the principal element of the demand for "community control".

Whether or not the armed forces are called into the Black community is, in the final analysis, not up to us. However, the decision that is still ours to make revolves around the question of whether and when we are going to make "community" -common unity- matter.

To quote from the lyrics of a song from "The Seven Principles" Album by Kwame Steve Cobb and Chavunduka:

"When all is said and done,

To be One's our revolution, We never stand alone, Unity's our resolution. Umoja is the message,  A call for Unity..."

To be continued...

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