Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Soaring to New Heights...

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“Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition he or she has overcome to reach his goals.” - Dr. Dorothy Height

On April 20, 2010, the world lost an AMAZING woman. Dr. Dorothy Height, a civil rights activist for more than 70 years, who was heavily influential in the fight for African American women and African Americans in general died after being hospitalized less than a month ago. She was an instrumental part of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), where she served as president for 40 years. The NCNW was crucial in arguing for the inclusion of black women into the professional working sphere. Under the leadership of Dr. Height, the NCWN showed the ways in which black women played a quintessential role in leading black radical organizations. She was also involved in the YWCA and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

It wasn't until my junior year of college when I heard about Dr. Dorothy Height. In fulfilling a prerequisite for my African American Studies minor I took a Black Gender Women studies class. I remember being in class and watching my teacher jump around the classroom with enthusiasm as he spoke about pioneering leaders such as Dr. Height. In another class, I would be asked to research several leaders, Dorothy Height included, using History Makers. Along with leaders such as Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Mary McLeod Bethune, Dr. Height was my inspiration to pursue a concentration in my minor for Black Gendered Women's Studies.

Dorothy Height, was not great because of her accomplishments, but because of all that she overcame. May she soar to new heights and land amongst the angels. She will be truly missed.

Dr. Dorothy Irene Height, March 24, 1912 - April 20, 2010
"The Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement" -
President Barack Obama

Do You Know Where Your Child Is?

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“We've got to work to save our children and do it with full respect for the fact that if we do not, no one else is going to do it.” - Dr. Dorothy Height

It was a nice day in Chicago so I decided to take a stroll. On my way home, my walk took me past a park where I noticed a large number of children playing. Due to the violence in Chicago, people spraying bullets into crowds and parks, I have been more cognizant of children playing in open areas and hoping they don't turn into targets. The kids playing in the park were about 5 to 11 years old. Under normal circumstances, this really wouldn't warrant my concern outside of the recent violence. However, what struck me was with all of the kids playing, there was not one adult.

I scanned the park three more times to make sure that I hadn't missed the one adult, possibly responsible for all the kids the result of maybe an after school program. Nope not one. Here is was 5:30 in the evening and these children were in a playground located on a busy street in a neighborhood where violence was becoming more and more prevalent. Why weren't they in the house doing homework? Granted, the children didn't have school the next day because of report card pick up day. Or they may have done their homework from 1:30pm to 5:00pm. Nevertheless, the real issue wasn't that they were outside, but they were outside alone.

When I was that age, if I wanted to go outside, my mother came with me. The playground I played in was located within the scope of the gated apartment complex I lived in, but that didn't matter to my mother. If she was well, she came outside with us and if she wasn't we didn't go outside. Now this is not to romanticize my childhood, but even when it came to walking my sister and I to catch our school bus in the morning, my mother made the trek with us. Not only that, almost every morning my dad would drive from his house to mine and wait with us for the school bus to come. When we got older, he would drive from his house and take us to school. Nowadays, I see children that look as young as 7 years old getting on CTA busses by themselves.

Yet as I looked at those children in the park by themselves, I had to wonder what conversation allowed them to be in that situation. Was it a child asking their parents for some kind of attention and their parents telling them to get out of their face and go outside? Was it a child simply asking to go to the park and their parents obliging? This seriously bothered me. I know some people may not think it a big deal, but children allowed to play without the auspices of adults become teenagers who roam the streets. They become teenagers whose parents don't care where they are at all times of the night.

Was I being dramatic? Eh, maybe. Nevertheless, I had to assess the situation now. The fact that these children are 5 to 11 in a park by themselves is just not kosher AT ALL. I don't know why I was surprised though. I see children walking light years ahead of their parent all the time. Or children pushing strollers while their parents talk on the phone. It's trifling. Parents need to accept more responsibility for their children. Parents need to know who their children are playing with at that age. Additionally, parents need to know who the parents are of the kids their child plays with on a daily basis.

They say it takes a village to raise a child and that doesn't absolve parents from their individual responsibility. If a parent doesn't care enough about their kids to take them to the park, it will eventually manifest in some way in their lives. Basically, letting your child play by themselves outside, sends a message that you don't mind the letting the streets do your job. How shameful.
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