Recently, I came across a story on my social media feed that inspired me. You might have seen it as well.
It was a post from an organization called New Era – a world-wide movement focused on activism, development, and support of Black communities.
The specific clip I saw was from the Detroit chapter – and features Black men pumping gas, loading groceries, and ensuring the safety of Black women who are moving around after dark in the city. Check it out below.
What resonated with me about this clip, and the larger mission of New Era, is the proactive approach these men take to ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of the communities in which they live.
One of the accountability tenets of New Era’s mission commits to:
“Making sure that we as people understand that we are accountable for our own communities and holding the people and institutions in our communities accountable as well.”
As most of you are likely aware, February is Black History Month – a month established by Carter G. Woodson with the aim of encouraging “people of all ethnic and social backgrounds to discuss the Black experience.”
Black History Month is a time to acknowledge, remember, and celebrate the contributions and achievements of Black people throughout history — the inventors and innovators, artists and activists, teachers and therapists, entrepreneurs and engineers.
The work of New Era, and countless other community organizations, reminds me of another contribution that stems from Black and African heritage — which is the vital importance of community and togetherness.
Perhaps you are already aware that the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” originates from an African proverb.
As this article states, this phrase “conveys the message that it takes many people (“the village”) to provide a safe, healthy environment for children, where children are given the security they need to develop and flourish, and to be able to realize their hopes and dreams.”
I certainly have experienced the ways in which the village mentality helps cultivate happier and healthier children — but I haven’t spent enough time reflecting on how this same concept can develop my approach to the neighborhoods, communities, and cities in which I live, move, work, and play.
As the men of New Era Detroit reminded me, I am accountable for my own community – for the safety and wellbeing of my neighbors, for the leaders and officials I elect, and for the institutions that impact the children, youth, families, and individuals of my city.
This innately African concept has shown up, and continues to show up, in countless ways throughout Black history — the underground railroad, the Civil Rights movement, Black Lives Matter, African American Roundtable, Color of Change, and Black Women’s Blueprint — to name only a few.
The work of these activists inspires me to follow the example Black people have set to protect, inform, advocate and organize so that our communities are better, brighter, and stronger.
No matter your race or ethnicity, there is something each of us can learn from one another. When you reflect on Black history — what aspects, inventions, movements, or concepts are most inspiring to you?
If you have anything comes to mind, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Rachel McCrickard, LMFT