We marched to show our exasperation over the killing of Ta’Niyah Thomas in Washington on March 31. Now we must take concrete steps to ensure change. Several members of the community have approached me asking what we should do next. How do we become the change we would like to see?
My suggestion: Our community leaders must be rational. The march, held shortly after Thomas was killed, was a collaboration of several rational actors. Nelson Mandela was a rational activist who not only understood the emotional depth of hatred, but also never allowed it to overwhelm his determination to bring his country together. Leaders must be disciplined in finding common ground. Civic leadership must foment creative objectives with plans representing attainable goals by incorporating several community players. Projects and programs can be devised by partnering with others. These plans should be reflective and rich in fostering relationships.
Organizational behaviors must change. Churches, nonprofits, businesses and governments must hear the call and come to the table. Community leaders must work within organizations to solicit participation. Violence and crime are not singular in their damage. The impact on businesses, neighborhoods and families are cancerous. Dialogue in our organizations must reflect our heightened awareness. What affects one affects us all.
City and county governments must be approached as partners not adversaries. I view government as an important partner. Though the bureaucratic navigation can become tedious, without government involvement some goals evaporate.
Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that “darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” Several members of our community have answered the call to action by contacting our organization and by participating in community activities. They choose to be “light bearers.” But it takes a city to save a city. No longer can anyone stand on the sidelines and wait for others. It’s everyone’s responsibility.
Fleet is the president of the board of directors of the Highland Ridge Community Development Corp.