Two months ago I had the pleasure of speaking at an event to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was a humbling experience and I will remember it for the rest of my life. I was given several weeks to prepare for the speech and decided to focus on community because of the strife and disorder we face daily. I have spent a great deal of time toiling over these ideas and I knew it would be impossible to deliver my message in a 20-minute speech.
So here is my message:
It is time to take a careful look in the mirror, not to see the battered and bruised reality, but to bare witness to the greatness, our greatness. Education attainment for African Americans is in need of our attention and deserves effort, energy and time.
We have to work with our youth to alter their belief system. Let’s put this into perspective; our youth have to navigate two worlds: their academic world and their personal world and often times these worlds cannot coexist without conflict. It is our duty to work with our young people to help navigate these realms successful, while simultaneously accepting both. Making the decision to value education does not devalue family. Additionally, young people have to be encouraged to advocate for themselves and ensure their needs are being met. This begins with being actively engaged in the process of life: education, athletic, spiritual. It may seem demanding but there is no time to waste. Their lives depend on their presence and participation. Furthermore, youth must understand the importance of positive social bonds. Teach them to forge bonds that foster growth, maturity, knowledge and success. They must form alliances with like-minded individuals and invested stakeholders to address the current academic outlook.
We are responsible for their futures and it is time for us to start behaving as such. Let’s start by believing in the best for our youth. We need to uplift them and let them know that they are decedents of kings and queens; royal blood flows through their veins. This may require a shift in how we regard ourselves but this mental transformation is necessary. Our youth are our greatest priority and we need to be involved in all aspects of their lives. We need to visit school campuses weekly and also connect with athletic coaches and the religious leaders who serve our youth. We must be active in all of their relationships. Connect their friends; connect with the parents of their friends. At some point in time we decided our participation was not necessary and this has contributed to our demise.
We are responsible for our surroundings and our past, present and future clearly confirms no one else will shoulder this responsibility. We can longer look to local, state, or federal entities to revitalize and / or develop our neighborhoods; this obligation is ours. It starts with us deciding change is possible and that we are fully capable of designing our destiny. Our current system of governing leaves us dependent on forces of oppression. Social program created to assist intentionally destroy. Our reliance on these programs continues to subjugate any efforts to thrive. We must seek ownership to dismantle this system. We must create and patronize our own businesses and own our homes and neighborhoods. This starts by investigating your surroundings, find individuals and families who have similar beliefs and build relationships. Access the human capital in your area. Identify local citizenry who have products and services that will benefit you and your family. Support one another; grow and build together, tap into what is readily available. Also, it is time to decide that education is priority. You and your like-minded neighbors must go to the community school at least 2 times per week to put all members of the academic community on notice. Either they will transform it from the inside or the community will transform it from the outside. We are the key decision makers in our communities. It is time to take a stand by creating standards and expectations for the members of your local populace. We need to hold ourselves accountable to each other if we truly want to transform our neighborhoods and our lives. We need to work like our lives depend on it…because it does.
Bio - Dr. Benson Reid
Dr. Shanelle R. Benson Reid is the President and CEO of ACCESS Global: The Coaching and Consulting Organization. She is a proponent of equity and empowerment for individuals who represent diverse backgrounds and situations.
Dr. Benson Reid earned a Bachelor's degree in Sociology from California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) and a Master's in Education (Special Education Option) from CSUSB as well. Dr. Reid earned her Doctorate from the University of La Verne in Organizational Leadership. Her dissertation is titled "A Case Study of the Historically, Successful Roles of African American Teachers, in Contemporary, Selected, Urban Charter School in New York."
Dr. Benson Reid's most recent project is “Entrepreneurship 101: Effective Strategies for Living on Purpose.” Entrepreneurship 101 is a manual designed to guide you through the entrepreneurship journey. This workbook is designed to help individuals build the necessary skills to become effective leaders and entrepreneurs. Students are encouraged to consider starting a business based on their passion and purpose then create a business plan. The goal of the manual is to educate, encourage and empower by emphasizing the importance of entrepreneurship and living a life of purpose.
Dr. Benson Reid also authored three additional books, "Empowered for Success: The Student's Guide to Academic Excellence is an educational workbook designed for students: middle school, high school, college, and adults reentering college. The workbook stresses the importance of an individualized approach to education. The manual was created to help students operate in a state of excellence while working to develop academic skills and abilities through self-awareness and skill acquisition. Empowered students successfully apply these enhanced skills and abilities to other academic settings and situations, thereby increasing independence, self-sufficiency and empowerment.
21 Days of Education, Encouragement, Empowerment and Excellence was written to inspire growth. Every day you have a new opportunity for a fresh start. Commit to education, encouragement, empowerment and excellence and watch your life transform. Enjoy this 21-day journey presented to you by ACCESS Global: The Coaching and Consulting Organization.
Empowerment From A to Z was written to view the alphabet with success in mind. Today is your day to be empowered and move forward. The Empowerment From A to Z inspirational guide is organized to help you achieve this goal: prepare for your transformation.
Dr. Benson Reid's personal motto is "Inspire individuals to pursue self-discovery, empower them to be innovative, progressive and revolutionary in thought and motivate them to be global activists.”