A few thoughts as the year winds down

| December 27, 2013

A Frost Illustrated Commentary

In a coming issue, we want to talk to you about baseball—yes, baseball and an innovative program that might be one of Fort Wayne’s best kept secrets when it comes to leadership development and economic benefits to the community. The World Baseball Academy, situated in the old Westfield neighborhood, is doing some incredible things here in the city—and has been for a decade. Even greater achievements are on the horizon for them, but we’ll talk about that soon.

Right now, we want to mention a couple of other interesting happenings in the city:

Item one: Naysayers might poo poo it, but we’ve noticed that there seems to be something of a lull in shootings in the city in recent weeks. Of course things could change in a fatal instance, but for now we’d like to point out that the streets have been relatively quiet since the Rev. Bill McGill embarked on another 40-day fast as a sacrifice, asking the LORD to bring peace to the community. And, at the same time, Bishop George McCowan has been part of a group bringing ministers and congregations together to pray for the city.

Psalm 35:13 calls fasting a humbling action and humility before the MOST HIGH is an essential part of making our requests for deliverance. Likewise, the Bible tells us in Proverbs 15:29, that the prayers of a righteous (forgiven, not necessarily perfect) individual indeed are heard by the LORD.

Call us whatever you want, but we suggest you thank the Rev. McGill and Bishop McCowan for the examples of faith they are setting in this community. That’s not to ignore others who are doing the work but we wanted to point out a few folks who believe in prayer and fasting and who are acting on it on behalf of the city.

Item two: We’re a bit dismayed by organizations in this city that claim to be working to improve life for “at risk” youth and working to rescue adolescents and young adults from the “streets,” yet seem reluctant to talk or work with young folks who are trying hard to make a turn and give back to the community. We’ve heard it too many times in the past weeks: A young person comes out of the streets and approaches elders saying, “I want to help. I want to give back after taking so long” and the elders reject them, saying things like, “That’s all you can give? Can’t you give us more? If you can’t, it’s not worth my time.” Or they tell young folks who say they need help, “It’s too cold to come out here and work.”

It’s especially disturbing when preachers say it’s too (a) cold (b) hot (c) wet (d) dry or whatever to do GOD’S work. And, what would Jesus do? “Oh, Jesus had good sense—he wouldn’t be out in this!” Are you brothers (and sisters) serious? As Brother Darnell Masterson-Bey asks, are we talking about the same Jesus who had no qualms about touching lepers and walking among the sick to heal those in need? But, there are folks out there who would have you believe otherwise. In all fairness, we sometimes slack in our responsibility too, but we’re not going to give you an excuse for our lack of work or try to convince you that our wrong is right.

That’s all we need to say for the moment. Need we name names?

On the positive, there are others like Brother Joe Jordan at the Boys & Girls Club, who consistently opens his organization’s doors to anyone who wants to make even the smallest contribution to the children of this community. Brother, we wish there were more folks like you.

Item three: What do you think of black organizations that steer business and advertising dollars away from other black (and brown) businesses and them claim it was those “racist white folks over there” who made the decision? Evidently, they don’t know that sometimes, decision-makers “over there” happen to be black folks we know who already had set aside dollars for the community but that money was misused by some so-called leaders in the community. That costs the black community jobs. Someone call Brother Eric Hackley and tell him we have found the elusive Willie Lynch—he’s alive and well here in Fort Wayne and, after all these centuries, still has folks backstabbing each other.

Item four: We all fall short—that’s a fact. But, we have to draw the line at those who hustle the community, collecting grant monies and corporate sponsorships for programs that show no results, such as enhanced education or job placements in these dire times. You see them at the press conferences and in all the meetings, but you don’t see them on the streets, talking with the folks who need help. Veterans of the civil rights movement call those grandstanders “poverty pimps”—folks who make a name and money for themselves on the misery of others. Ironically, they always seem to get a pass because the community likes media stars. If they’re on TV or have a title, they must be important! As one young brother said, maybe it’s time we quit handing out celebrity passes to folks who are always “talking loud and saying nothin’!” He said maybe it’s time to put those hustlers on “blast.”

Fortunately, there are some folk out there who work diligently to help others without always seeking the limelight. We typically refer people to them. Often, it means we won’t get a “sensational” story to print, but it’s more important that a person get a problem solved than we get a story. We thank those folks out there who are always ready to lend a hand by taking a troubled young person under their wing, visiting a school and teaching young folks anger management, giving a homeless teen a place to stay or handing out clothing to the needy in the community, just to name a few.

There’s nothing wrong with being acknowledged publicly for good work, but when your every action seems to be designed to be seen, we have to ask, are you trying to save the community or knock Kanye off the pop charts? Nothing wrong with entertainment, but community work is not entertainment. It’s serious business—real lives are at stake.

And, thank you Sister Brenda Robinson. Like Brother Famious Williams, we want to quote you: Now that we know better, let’s do better.

P.S. Speaking of Brother Williams, hear what he has to say about shooting guns on New Year’s Eve. Do we really want to celebrate the new year by shooting when shooting has caused so much death and misery in our community? Folks, guns are not toys and we need to stop making their use a frivolous activity—like shooting them to celebrate. That’s all the brother is trying to say.

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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