“No one is coming to save us. We are the change we need to see. Let today be the day that we transform our communities. This is our uprising. We are the people.” – Dr. Shanelle R. Benson Reid

Today, I carry with me the, anger, fear, frustration and pain of those who came before me and those who will come after. I spent several days pondering this topic because of the racism and systematic oppression faced daily; a great deal of time toiling over these ideas and knew it would be impossible to not share.

So here is my message:
It is time to take a careful look in the mirror, not to see the battered and bruised reality, but to bare witness to the greatness, our greatness. Equitable access to education is in need of our attention and deserves effort, energy and time. We can no longer sit and allow our children to be mis-educated and mislead into a future that means them harm. It is time to demand change in our curriculum, teaching and hiring practices. Creating schoolhouses with out representation is like teaching supremacy without saying a word.

We have to work with our youth to alter their belief system. Let’s put this into perspective; our youth have to navigate two worlds: their academic world and their personal world and often times these worlds cannot coexist without conflict. It is our duty to work with our young people to help navigate these realms successful, while simultaneously accepting both. Making the decision to value education does not devalue family. Additionally, young people have to be encouraged to advocate for themselves and ensure their needs are being met. This begins with being actively engaged in the process of life: education, community, athletic, spiritual. It may seem demanding but there is no time to waste. Their lives depend on their presence and participation. Furthermore, youth must understand the importance of positive social bonds. Teach them to forge bonds that foster growth, maturity, knowledge and success. They must form alliances with like-minded individuals and invested stakeholders to change their trajectory and impact their futures.

Parents Figures
We are responsible for their futures and it is time for us to start behaving as such. Let’s start by believing in the best for our youth. We need to uplift them and let them know that they are decedents of kings and queens; royal blood flows through their veins. This may require a shift in how we regard ourselves but this mental transformation is necessary. Our youth are our greatest priority and we need to be involved in all aspects of their lives. We need to participate in school and community and also connect with teachers, coaches, mentors and the religious leaders who serve our youth. We must be active in all of their relationships. At some point in time, we decided our participation was not necessary and this has contributed to our failure.

We are responsible for our surroundings and our past, present and future clearly confirms no one else will shoulder this responsibility. We can longer look to local, state, or federal entities to revitalize and / or develop our neighborhoods; this obligation is ours. It starts with us deciding change is possible and that we are fully capable of designing our destiny. Our current system of governing leaves us dependent on forces of oppression. Social program created to assist intentionally destroy. Our reliance on these programs continues to subjugate any efforts to thrive. We must seek ownership to dismantle this system. We must create and patronize our own businesses and own our homes and neighborhoods. This starts by investigating your surroundings, finding individuals and families who have similar beliefs and building relationships. Access the human capital in your area. Identify local citizenry who have products and services that will benefit you and your family. Support one another; grow and build together, tap into what is readily available. Also, it is time to decide that formal and informal education is priority. You and your like-minded neighbors must actively engage in all community efforts. Organizations will be transformed from the inside or communities with transform them from the outside. We are the key decision makers in our communities. It is time to take a stand by creating standards and expectations for the members of your local populace. We need to hold ourselves accountable to each other, if we truly want to transform our neighborhoods and our lives.

It is time to prioritize the needs of the community. The desire to thrive is necessary; merely surviving is no longer an option. If leadership is not contributing to this idea, then it is time for removal. These individual are in position to serve. If unjust laws that harm certain sectors of the community are in place, then this service is insufficient and must be addressed, immediately. If addressing these injustices causes greater harm, then removal of leadership must be a serious consideration. Strong neighborhoods lead to solid communities, which contribute to prosperous cities. It is time to stop looking for some one to rescue us. It is up to us to change our current station. We are the People and we need to work like our lives depend on it…because it does.

~Dr. Shanelle R. Benson Reid~
Dr. Benson Reid, President and CEO of ACCESS Global Group and ACCESS Global Enterprises is a Consultant, Coach, Author, and Professional Speaker. Her expertise is in areas of Education, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Trauma Responsiveness Cultural Competency, Social Awareness and Community / Individual Empowerment.

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