The ELDERS, Inc.
Experienced Leaders Directing Efforts to Regain Sanity
Someone once said that one of the definitions of insanity was doing the same thing over and over, the same way, and expecting a different result. When I think about current attempts to right existing wrongs in the Black community, I am reminded of that definition.
Since becoming a community activist in the late 1960's, I have been involved in many meetings of African-American community residents decrying the absence of some needed service or lamenting the most recent act of violence that claimed another Black life. The usual outcome of those meetings was some collective demand that the local and/or federal government department, assigned to handle the particular issue at hand, expend the necessary funds and manpower to correct the source of the community's complaints that necessitated this new meeting.
Year after year, decade after decade, from Roxbury, Mass. to St. Croix, USVI, and many cities in between, I have been witness to and participant in meetings about the lack of recreational facilities for children and/or the slaying of another child, for God knows what reason. Time and time again we ended up demanding that the fox protect the hen house. If that is not insane, you tell me.
At sixty-nine years of age and a legitimate veteran of the on-going movement to improve the conditions of Black people in America, I unabashedly claim the title "Elder". Like many of my peers, I deeply regret the depths to which we, as a people, have fallen. Please, don't quote gains that we have made in the past thirty years as a result of the civil rights movement. While recognizing the rights to vote, to attend integrated schools or stay in decent public accommodations as important advances, they can in no way mitigate loses to our collective moral fiber as we supposedly "got paid".
As African-American professional athletes and entertainers are paid inordinate sums to distract us from the true state of affairs in our communities, they simultaneously contribute to our rapidly declining moral, physical and spiritual quality of life. The wanton display of materialism, licentious behavior and disrespectful regard for the law, on and off the field of play, are attributes that seem to come along with too many athletes and entertainers gifted with extraordinary abilities. They, unfortunately through their celebrity, encourage our children to mimic their antics. The ripple effect into our homes and communities has been devastating.
There seems to be a need for a collective response from Black people of conscience to join our voices and scream from the top of our lungs to our collective sons, "Boy, are you crazy? Stop acting the fool". Our children are sorely in need of advice and guidance. What better source than their Elders?
Theophilus A. Baptiste, Founder