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Sunday, March 3, 2024

The ‘secret’ to strong communities

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Valentine’s Day, our next national holiday, celebrates a powerful tool that can make our communities stronger: Love.

This may sound simple to you, because it is. If we practice it, love can solve a multitude of our community’s problems, from drug use and street violence to low test scores and poverty.

Yes, we do need to love each other and treat each other right as family members, friends and neighbors. However, in this column, I’m dealing with romantic love between a man and a woman.

As we know, romantic love can lead to a strong relationship, which can lead to a strong marriage. Strong marriages then lead to strong families. Strong families and households build strong communities.

That is because many character values are learned or taught in the home. Imagine more children being raised in (and more people living in) homes where parents are teaching good values in terms of how to treat people, right from wrong and offering examples of excellence, like attending church and practicing sound financial management. All these things can get into motion when two people meet and get to know each other.

Sadly, however, more people are finding it harder to maintain good relationships, let alone good marriages. Divorce rates are getting higher. Some sources, including a study by the American Psychological Association, place the national divorce rate anywhere between 40 and 50 percent.

More singles and couples are waiting longer to get married. According to the United States Census Bureau, 44 percent of Americans are single, and 52 percent say they are too busy to go on real dates or establish a steady committed relationship with someone.

Also, a growing number of African-Americans — some men and a higher number of women — remain single when they would rather be in a loving relationship. The problem of not having enough single mates is one I personally have heard expressed, particularly by professional Black women. In fact, a recent article by CNN reported online dating options are the most limited for African-American women.

It is time we do something about it.

If we want our communities and our culture as African-Americans to be stronger in the 21st century, we must address the issue of relationships. Strengthening the institution of the Black family is essential for progress, and it starts with solid relationships. We must set up more positive venues where eligible single brothas’ and sistas’ can get to know each other.

Currently, I am conducting a survey of local residents of various ages who are single, married or divorced to gauge the most common needs of people in each situation. The results will be released in my next column and can offer some insight into how we can build stronger relationships that lead to stronger marriages, families and communities.

In the meantime, enjoy Valentine’s Day, and if you have a significant other, show them how much you appreciate them — not just on that holiday, but often. If you are single and looking for a Valentine, some relationship experts recommend getting to know people in positive venues, such as your church and places where you enjoy hobbies, and through recommendations from trusted friends and family members.

Dash for the cash

This week’s memo: Actress Stacey Dash does not speak for Black conservatives.

Her diss of BET and Black History Month was disappointing and outrageous. (BET’s response to Dash on Twitter was hilarious.)

Dash recently became a conservative talk show pundit. Apparently she cares more about her ratings than the need for all people to be properly educated about the contributions of African-Americans. Dash is “Clueless” about why America needs both BET and Black History Month. It’s for the same reason we have needed Black businesses, church denominations, newspapers (such as this one), organizations like the NAACP, Urban League, Indiana Black Expo and fraternities and sororities. That reason is because if we had waited for the majority culture to admit us into existing organizations and promote our interests, we would have been waiting forever! When BET was formed in 1980, the presence of African-Americans was very limited on both cable and network television. For example, the lack of diversity was so apparent that in 1983, the late David Bowie, a white entertainer, spoke out against MTV for not featuring Black artists.

In other words, Black institutions were formed out of necessity, and they still serve us today, so there is no reason to get rid of them now.

As far as Black History Month is concerned, most of us know it is important because until recent years, the contributions of Blacks in science, medicine, government, athletics, business and other fields were largely overlooked in standard classroom textbooks. Black History Month is here to remind folks there is much more to our heritage than issues of the slave trade and the Civil Rights Movement.

Another reason Dash’s comments were irritating is they show why some African-Americans do not trust Black conservatives. That mistrust deepens when conservatives — regardless of race — attack Black institutions.

When self-promoting Black conservatives like Dash make divisive comments, it makes it harder for solution-oriented Black conservatives to discuss real issues in our community.

Being conservative is one thing; advocating cultural suicide is another. Dash should be helping conservatives and Republicans develop an uplifting package of solutions to address the challenges of urban America if she is a true conservative and not just promoting her commercial brand among a political fringe.

Brandon Perry is an Indiana-based freelance journalist and political activist. He can be reached at perryforindiana@gmail.com.

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