As we know, media stories hurl themselves at us from all angles, and with the addition of so many internet sources, we often find ourselves up to our ears in a flood of information. Our time and energy is limited so in this situation, we often find it difficult to determine what issues to care about and address.
The following are some stories/issues that are highly important and worthy of our righteous indignation and activism (in my humble opinion, of course). Keep a close eye on these stories as they directly impact us and point to the battlegrounds of current and future human rights issues.
1. Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens: In a blatant act of shameless self-promotion, I begin the list with my new book for teens. On a serious note though, the book is so important because Black youth find themselves in such a disturbing and disadvantaged situation. Tons of special reports, studies, and our own observations help us understand the problems. Now we must DO something about it. My approach involves education and self-empowerment.
2. The fate of Affirmative Action in America: The universe works in harmony. When that equilibrium is disturbed, chaos, war and strife appears. Injustices must be rectified, and until they are, we will experience pain and suffering. There is no way around this. Unfortunately, some people believe Black people can undergo 100 years of Jim Crow segregation and discrimination in jobs and education, and that the universities and the Federal government should play no part in providing restitution or corrective measures. The Supreme Court recently upheld Michigan’s prohibition of Affirmative Action in public programs. Keep a close eye on this issue, and let your voice be heard via petitions, protests, articles, etc.
3. Independent and Progressive Black electoral politics: The progressive Black World mourned the recent death of newly elected Jackson, Mississippi Mayor and longtime political activist, Chokwe Lumumba. His untimely death was a setback for grassroots politics, but the plan he operated from is still alive and well! Salute to the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (which Lumumba helped create) for developing this plan! A conscious and committed warrior has fallen and become an ancestor but the revolution continues until we are liberated! Lumumba’s son is now running for the Mayoral position vacated by his dad. Harambe to this young brother for stepping up to the plate. We too, should become familiar with the Jackson plan, engage Black folk in our communities, and implement this plan to the best of our ability in local political endeavors.
4. The Mass Incarceration of Black and Latino people: The prison industrial complex and the disproportionate number of Blacks and Latinos oppressed by it, is not some hidden or clandestine issue. It is quite conspicuous in fact, and the statistics are both mind-blowing and indisputable. The increasing privatization of prisons only adds to this deplorable phenomenon. Record numbers of our people find themselves unfairly placed in captivity and we must become more informed and do something to address this tragedy. One thing you can do immediately is read law professor Michelle Alexander’s groundbreaking book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”
5. Immigration and the Mistreatment of Foreign-born people: The African Diaspora (African-descended peoples relocated by force or migration throughout the world) includes over 200,000,000 people throughout the world. In many cases, they face great mistreatment and disadvantage due to their foreign-born and non-white status. Latinos for example, are the largest ethnic group in the United States but they face great odds attaining adequate education, gainful employment at fair wages, and they suffer from unfair profiling and incarceration. Despite differences in language, music and other customs, they are family and need our support.
6. American Public Education and the Hidden Agenda for Youth of Color: Every citizen of the United States is entitled to a free and adequate education, yet for Black and Latino youth, this promise remains unfulfilled. For the most part, American public schools are overcrowded and under-resourced, and the vast majority of our youth are being set up to be a permanent and politically powerless underclass. But then again, this was the plan from the beginning of the 20th Century.
Agyei Tyehimba is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. Agyei has appeared on C-Span, NY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, “The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” Mr. Tyehimba wrote “The Blueprint: A BSU Handbook,” and most recently, “Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens.” If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak to your organization, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.