Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.
When I think of the perfect community, the first thing that comes to mind is peace. In my perfect community, there would peace among every brother and sister; not just African Americans but every culture. We would be blind to color, because color would not matter in my community. It would be equal opportunity and the word minority wouldn’t exist. We would unify each other in every aspect. No brother or sister would stumble alone.
African history would be taught in our schools, not just European history. Our children will learn their roots from an early age. It has taken me 21 years to learn my roots and who I am really. In elementary school, my teachers didn’t teach me about Egypt. I was taught European, German, French and Korean history. I didn’t learn about El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz until I was in eighth grade; and as far as I can remember, most teachers didn’t teach about Malcolm X because of his past years in prison. Growing up, I have only learned of Dr. King and Rosa Parks; respect is all due to them, but they are not the only Black leaders.
We have to know more about our history, our ancestors, our language and our land. We were told that we were nothing and that we weren’t smart. We were told that Abraham Lincoln ended slavery when the reality is that our African American forefathers were ready to take back their freedom. We are taught about Columbus and how he supposedly discovered America, but we have no knowledge of Pedro Alonso Nino, the Black navigator of 1492. I am not making any racial statements. I am trying to point out areas that need more attention. Every other race is aware of their background and culture. Yet the Black community still lacks the knowledge and wisdom of our heritage. If it wasn’t for my heritage and ancestors, I would be completely lost.
Teaching our history will encourage African Americans to become entrepreneurs instead of working for others. History will also show young Africans American that materialism means nothing. We never had the things we have today. Our ancestors survived off spirituality and heart but we cannot survive if our phone battery dies; we have to do better. I love Malcolm X because he breaks it down. In “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” Malcolm talks about how Black people want everything the next man has but we cannot afford it. We drive luxury foreign cars while living in a one-bedroom apartment with three children. We conk our hair and pay for the most expensive clothes, but we do not own trust funds or even a savings account. Again I say teaching culture would be a very serious step toward building my perfect community.
Finally, my perfect community would have more resources for youth. More adults would step up and spend more time with youth, instead of judging them and running away from them. No young person would be neglected. I would create millions of homeless shelters for urban youth and adults. No one would ever be hungry. Our communities would have lots of food pantries. Elementary schools would give early majors to students and children would be able to start a major in their seventh year of elementary school. More internships would be offered to youth, especially in employable fields like computer software, app developer, pharmacy techs, etc. Most importantly, no child would be left behind. There would be at least one mentor for every child.