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Blogging for Justice: Community Organizers

It's time for community organizers to stand up!

Apparently Sarah Palin hasn't the slightest idea what community organizers mean to our neighborhoods.

Let me tell you about my experience:

When I was a teenager, I was a member of my church's (Mount Moriah Baptist Church) Friday Night Youth Group. With the help of our Youth Pastor, Mr. Johnson, we organized prayer studies, fundraisers, trips to the movies, amusement parks and off-site spiritual retreats for our neighborhood youth.

We also held group sessions where we could talk about our problems within a group of our peers. Sometimes teenagers just need to vent, but they are afraid of ridicule or retaliation. Some are just too afraid to do it in the company of their parents.

We often touched upon how some felt pressured into having sex by their friends and boy/girlfriends. We discussed the difficulties some of our teens were facing due to teen pregnancies and how they were ill prepared for parenthood. We would reach out to troubled teens who were repeatedly in trouble with the law and on one of the most moving moments, two of our youth told their stories of how they were ready to commit suicide before attending our Friday Nigh Youth Group sessions.

I'm sure that like myself, many of us are forever grateful for Mr. Johnson and our church for lending us the space to be ourselves and for not having to find the wrong answers on the city's streets.

I took that lesson with me and when I arrived at college, I was ready to jump in with both feet. I became a member of the Black Student Union (BSU), the regular Student Union,  a Student Orientation Leader, and I also became a mentor for teen girls.

In the BSU, we organized meetings with our fellow students to assist them with their assimilation from high school to college. What may come easy to some was pretty difficult for others. We assisted students in filling out their college applications, showed them where to go for books, how to purchase them from the student buy-back programs and encouraged them to seek out tutors if they fell behind. We left every door open so they would not feel that they were in it alone.

My favorite organization was the Student Orientation Advisory. I felt pride in being a representative of my University, and when the new students arrived every semester, groups of upperclassmen would give tours of the campus, assist the students who were unsure of which classes to choose, we'd give them advice on which dorms and student facilities were closest to campus, and we'd show them around the city and tip them off on which places gave the best student discounts. We organized study groups which in turn, helped all that participated.

All of these organizations gave me a sense of accomplishment because I knew there were several students who needed that guidance. It also introduced automatic friendships and reinforced school spirits. When you have students reaching out to other students, you don't have to worry about the fear of the unknown, the uncomfortable feelings of alienation, you are instantly embraced by your peers and introduced to your fellow classmates.

During the summer months, I became a mentor for a high school student who was attending the Boston Center for the Arts that year. We became fast friends as I introduced her to radio and broadcast communications. She told me that I changed her life when I took her on a trip to New York so she could visit colleges. She lived in a house with her mother, her nine siblings, her aunt and five other cousins and told me she never thought college was an option. Her confession was that they didn't have the money to send all the children to college and she thought she needed to get pregnant in order to obtain welfare to get out of her mother's house. What a sad solution that would have been to a temporary problem.

I showed her that working hard and setting goals would get her to where she wanted to be, and would also open many more doors. She enrolled in college and put herself through undergrad and is now working on her Masters. We have been lifelong friends for fourteen years now.

I am telling you, it is a wonderful gift to share yourself with others without expecting anything back.

I would hate to have gone through life without those activities, those accomplishment, those relationships that have shaped who I am as a person. Had someone come along and cut the funding, or put down what we were doing, myself and many others would have been at a serious disadvantage.

Community organizers are not to be taken lightly. We are the people who shape and mold our peers. Where would we be without the people who stood up and decided to feed their neighbors, or transport the elderly? Or the people who organized neighborhood watches and peace organizations?

Aren't they considered leaders and community organizers?  'You betcha' Sarah!

Aren't they just as important, if not moreso than local governors whom we rarely if ever see on our streets?

Tell me, how often does your governor stop by your home to see if you are hungry or if your lights are on?

When has your governor taken you to work or the grocery store because you didn't have a car or gas money?

I thought so.  Don't let Sarah Palin and her one-liners get you off track here people.

As an adult, I currently volunteer at Project Open Hand and assist with the preparation of meals that will feed the local hungry. I am not here to gloat about any of my deeds, I am here to tell Sarah Palin that I am a community organizer. And I'm pretty proud of it.

Several members of the AfroSpear and the AfroSphere are blogging today to let Sarah Palin know just how important community leaders are. Please stop by and visit us and feel free to share your experience as a leader in your community.


Fellow AfroSpear Bloggers participating in the Day of Blogging for Community Organizing:

  • Regina's Family Seasons

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