By Neysa Ellery Taylor
If you follow black media, then you are aware of CNN contributor Roland Martin’s suspension for his tweets during the Superbowl. This post isn’t about that. This post is about a series of tweets that Demetria Lucas, contributor for Essence Magazine, sent this past Thursday.
Here they are:
@abelleinbk “Black folk complain and get an eye roll. Glaad complains and ish gets changed… swiftly. That’s power.”
@belleinbk “And I straight up HATE that after 100+ years, the NAACP doesn’t have the power of GLAAD.”
Well, damn. That says a lot doesn’t it. And let’s be honest, it’s true. But why is it true? That is the part that I have trouble wrapping my head around. Historically, we’ve been able to unite and change the course of history. But what happened? This is my take on the situation:
You can’t bring an 8-track to an MP3 situation. The days of marching have passed. I mean it. They have gone the way of the dinosaur… extinct. Because what does a march accomplish? Nothing. It is a show of force without any real power behind it. If you want to evoke change, organize a economic boycott, a “sit-in” at a council meeting, a shut down the poll event. Things that actually matter and where support is measurable. Utilize facebook and twitter to spread the word. Make sure your public relations team effectively communicates your message and your MEASURABLE goals. Position your ARTICULATE spokesperson in front of the cameras to share your message with the media. Make sure your organization has a free tshirt that shares your message. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But these small changes move your organization from complainers to world changers.
Old school has to stop telling new school that we dropped the ball. Several years ago I attended a community workshop on organizing for change. It was put on by a prestigious African-American organization and I went full of excitement about getting action steps for change. I left the meeting quite angry. Why? Because those in power – who were part of the civil rights movement – keep talking about how the younger generation had dropped the ball. I really don’t see it that way. I see it as we dropped the baton. In a relay race, the baton has to be passed smoothly so that the next runner can take over and run their part of the race. So we may have dropped the baton but we had help. The baton pass was faulty. That doesn’t mean that the race is over, but it does mean that we need to work together to understand the gifts that all generations bring to the table. There is wisdom and history that needs to be gathered from the older members of our community. The younger generation has passion and energy. Gifts of both generations have to be appreciated and utilized for organizations to be effective.
We have to move from reactionary to visionary. Stop being reactionary. Any NFL coach will tell you that the best defense is a strong offense. Plan for the future. We have to change our focus. The presidential election is important, but your council, school board, state legislature is just as important. We can’t rally every 4 years and expect the world to change. We have to think about long-term goals. Do you want better schools? Then attend a PTA meeting, a school board meeting, a state senate education committee meeting. That is where the decisions are being made that effect our children. After legislation has passed is no time to fuss. It’s too late then. We have to stop bills and policies from passing.
You have to know your role in the organization. Everyone can’t be Dr. King. Someone has to work the phone tree, twitter account, create flyers, provide rides to the polls, etc. Everyone can’t be the face of the movement. So move vanity out of the way. Know your role and play it well. Just because you can “stir up the spirit” praying at church doesn’t mean that you should be the spokesperson for the organization. This is a soundbite generation. Concise, articulate language is needed to convey your message. (Trust me on this one. It’s what I do for a day job.)
Take your children along as you change the world. Remember the baton analogy? You have to train the next generations to take up the baton. You have to teach them how to fight for justice. You have to teach them about the government and how to petition the government for change. So take them along with you. Involve them in the process. (As long as it is safe, of course.)
Finally, support the cause – financially. Organizations that have become too top heavy need to trim the fat. You can’t expect the community to support an organization if your CEO is “ballin.'” There will be a disconnect between the public and the organization. Organizations also need to lower their membership fees to bring more people into the fold. Joining an organization should feel inclusive not elitist. But the community needs to do our part as well. We have to skip a hair appointment or a happy hour and spend the money supporting organizations that support us. If you can spend $$$ on the Watch the Throne concert tour, then you can spend $$$ on watching our community change for the better, right?
So those are a few action steps. What are your thoughts? Better yet, what are your steps? Because if we all keep making steps, we will finally get to our destination.
Neysa Ellery Taylor is an integral part of the writing team here at Blackloveandmarriage.com. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, Chris, and their 4 children – Asyen, Maya, Preston, and Patrick. An Emmy-Award winning journalist, she hopes to share her passion for marriage and God through her writing. You can read more of her work at Myriadthatisme.blogspot.com.