The older I get, the more reflective I am. Add the transitioning of loved ones and icons like Aretha Franklin this week; the premiere of Walk on the River: A Black History of the Alamo City plus the soliloquy “Ode to Juneteenth” at the Witte have taken me back - WAY BACK!
Back to a place where our community was just that - community. It was defined by geographical borders, economical borders, racial borders but most importantly emotional borders. We knew each other. We took care of each other. We dined together, prayed together, played together, mourned together, learned together, shopped together and lived together. What has happened?
Some say desegregation happened. Some say gentrification happened. Some say the lack of a community radio station happened. I say “we” happened. In our attempt to “arrive”, we left so many behind. Yes, it is exciting that we helped so many children going back to school with backpacks, we give toys at Christmas, we participate in the MLK March, the almost obligatory Black History Month program and the Juneteenth barbecues. Is that a start? Is that the end? Is it superficial?
Yes, the premiere of “Walk on the River” was sold out however the number of attendees under the age of 18 was probably less than 30. The “Ode to Juneteenth” performance at the Witte was attended by 8 persons of color. Of the 8, 3 were children. I grew up in an era when adults would take and sometimes drag us to events such as these. That was the village. In the mixed blue collar neighborhood of my childhood, I knew my neighbors, the mailman, the paper boy, the garbage man, the family that had the ice cream truck etc. Some of my teachers went to my church. We were bound by one common thread: We needed each other to survive.
How do we expect the sense of village to be supported when we do not speak to our neighbors? We do not even know the name of the person sitting next to us in church? This recurring column will talk about the village and challenge us to tear down the walls and cross boundaries to re-establish OUR village.
THIS WEEKS VILLAGE CHALLENGE: Introduce yourself to your neighbor and have a conversation with them. If you know your neighbor, stop by to say hello. Share this challenge with them and share your challenge experience on our Facebook page. Let’s rebuild our village together!
Blessings and Peace!
Deborah A. Omowale