Prophets- regardless of the age in which they live, their ethnicity, their far-reaching messages - are a much needed yet oft abused lot. We yearn for people with a vision what goes beyond the immediate (although the action required should begin immediately) to generations of generations.
Politicians, willing to be seen in a positive light will often play a type of shell game - more specifically, a bait and switch game - when it comes to minority communities. The organization (Sustainable South Bronx)attempts to work with city bureaucracy. Plans and forecasts are shown to the principal legislators, showing how creating jobs in the the area would improve the community, how renovating unused space to esplanades and biking trails would boost community pride, improve overall health and ease the strain of urban life. Greening would cool city temperatures in the summer, provide a natural air filtration system. Jobs will be created in an area yearning for meaningful employment and a sense of contributing to the lives of the generations coming up.
Oh yes, says the city, but Rykers Island facilities need renovation - we will need a new detention site. You give some to get some..... only to find out that the facility is to house more than triple the number of beds originally quoted. AND (the God's honest truth here) one of the ACTUAL justifications given by the city on how to look on the bright side of the revised plan??
"The families here would have an easier time visiting their incarcerated relatives".
That was not a sick, deranged joke. That was given as a valid reason. The unspoken premise being, of course, that black and hispanic (particularly) men would doubtless end up spending time behind bars.
I'm certain that this type of 'reasoning' would not be given to the Hilton family in their neighborhood...... even the Lohans, for that matter.
How long does it take to change a way of life, a stereotype, a 'predictatble' projection? How long will it take to reinstate self-respect in a segment of the population assumed to be an expendable, barely tolerable, draining nuisance. Grow up being called and considered 'good for nothing' and - without intervention - that worthlessness sinks in, festers, is vented through violence and apathy.
How long can the island of Manhattan - densely populated and with wild abandon squandering natural resources at an alarming rate - ship all of their garbage and recycling elsewhere? Why not process their own? Why not explore ways to go green by cleaning up their own mess? Planting a shallow layer of topsoil on rooftops -not only to insulate the buildings but also NATURALLY deal with airborne contamination?
Majora and her colleagues have their hands full. Being a prophet is a heavy load to carry on one's shoulders.... yet I did not hear Majora asking for the responsibility to the community, the city, the state, the nation, the world...to go away.
If she has her hands full, then let's lend more to the cause. Many hands make lighter work and facing the 'powers that be' with more bodies, more voices, more passion across the board will be heard.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine... we have much work to do. Even in Jesus' day, there was a harvest to be had, but the laborers were few. We cannot afford to stand on the sidelines on this one: Global warming, further distinction of peoples and priorities. I don't have to ask twice "What Would Jesus Do". He would roll up His sleeves and pitch in. Our legacy as Christians is that - in love and solidarity - we can roll up our sleeves (figuratively or literally) as well to pitch in.
For further information on Sustainable South Bronx (and how you might help), go to www.ssbx.org. And, in the voice of Whoopi Goldberg, I'd like to add "We're with you, girl".