By Ron Spears – Contributing Writer
The latest news cycle suggests that we are in jeopardy of losing an entire generation of youth, wealth, and civil rights laws. Covid-19 has exposed the health gap impacting our elders from sharing wisdom to our youth. Our 45th president has stacked the local courts with young conservative judges with limited experience to lifetime appointments. Police brutality and civil unrest have paralyzed Black mothers (and fathers) with fear until their sons and daughters come home safely every night.
Despite this grim outlook and reality of the Current World Order in our community, I remain hopeful about building a Nu World Order centered around the 3 strongest institutions in our history – the Black family, the Black church, and our Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). The powerful combination of my mother and father, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church family, and beloved alma mater Morehouse prepared me to succeed in this Current World Order. During our annual baccalaureate service, I watched my daughter walk across the stage at church since Covid-19 took that away from her high school. I experienced a rush of emotions, especially since my wife and I will be sending her off to Hampton University in a few weeks to study engineering just like I did 30 years ago. I have no doubt in my mind she will be well equipped to succeed in this current world order. However, it is essential for ALL our children who don’t have the advantages my daughter had to be successful in making this Nu World Order necessary.
This is where we all have a responsibility to leverage these 3 institutions to uplift our community during this turning point in our society. Are we using this quarantine time for self-reflection, retooling and mobilization planning or binge watching Ozark, BlackAF, and Insecure? I have been spending the last 3 months building a virtual master class on life, a lifestyle blog about GrownManStyle, managing my church’s Facebook page and contacting high school graduates from the Detroit area accepted to Morehouse to convince them to attend my alma mater. Here are my recommendations and experiences for this Nu World Order.
The Black Family
God Bless the successful and hard working Black families out here surviving and thriving despite the Current World Order. This Nu World Order will require us to take the “It takes a village” mindset more serious in terms of action for the families in our community not as fortunate. My new virtual class called The Keys to Life (launching in July) is a comprehensive life skills curriculum designed to engage youth, young adults, and adults to make good choices and overcome challenging circumstances to experience a good quality of life. Through a series of 1-hour modules addressing the Learning stage of life (Parents, Beliefs, Education, Hobbies and Peer Pressure), the Working stage (Career, Marriage, Children and Health) and Living stage (Retirement Savings, Lifestyle and Legacy). Each module contains introductory reading materials, a brief video, reflection and planning worksheets, discussion questions with parents/mentors and guided meditations to help motivate success and overcome challenges. In this Nu World Order, every young person (and their parents) experiencing quality of life challenges need to have a solid foundation to supplement what they are not getting in the current world order. This foundation is a step in the right direction.
The Black Church
I serve at Hartford as a Trustee, Vice Chairman of the Men’s Ministry and head of the African Relief Ministry. The Black church has been a source of strength and comfort for hundreds of years. A Black Liberation theology is no longer an option, but must become a reality in this Nu World Order. At Hartford, our Pastor emeritus Charles G. Adams said decades ago that every black church should adopt a village in Africa. We actually did it over 20 years ago and still support them today. I took teenaged boys (and girls) to Senegal and The Gambia to visit the Goree Island slave castle and participate in a traditional rites of passage ritual with kids from the village. We financed and managed the construction of a water purification system for the village in 2018 so hundreds of families can have access to clean water. This year, we are planning to help with school and trade scholarships and rebuilding a store in the village so women can sell their goods without travelling to the city. In this Nu World Order, we have to trade resources they need that we take for granted for cultural experiences for our children that will transform their lives forever. For my lifestyle blog, I recently interviewed several students I took to Africa in the 1990s to catch up with them to learn how the program has impacted their quality of life now as adults. Their feedback was transformative and one of the young men (a Howard University and Harvard Divinity School grad) is now our Youth pastor at Hartford.
My experience at Morehouse (’87-’91) was truly transformative and planted the seeds for my success and new lifestyle blog. Our former college President Dr. Robert Franklin coined the phrase that a Morehouse man is a renaissance man with a social conscious, who is well dressed, well-traveled, well-read, well-spoken, and well balanced. My experience with friends from other HBCUs has clearly shown a similar life-transforming experience and focus on self-confidence and the upliftment of our community. Having attended 2 PWIs (predominantly white institutions) in addition to Morehouse (Georgia Tech and Wisconsin for grad school), I clearly see the difference as one is a transaction and the other is an experience. If you have ever been to an HBCU homecoming, you will certainly see just what I mean. HBCUs also provide the needed context and platform to help shape the narrative of this Nu World Order for hip hop artists, storytellers, poets, songwriters, businessmen and women, corporate leaders, filmmakers, doctors, lawyers and all aspects of our future.
My new lifestyle blog reflects those 5 “wells” in a way to inspire and control our narrative about quality of life in this Nu World Order:
- Book Club (Well Read) – Share book reviews and lessons learned about African History & Culture and the African-American Experience along with other topics like business, self-help, poetry and biographies of extraordinary people.
- Travel (Well-Traveled) – Share blog and vlog stories about domestic and international travel experiences such as visiting the Motherland, vacation planning, excursions and destinations.
- Fashion (Well Dressed) – Share examples of what well-dressed men and women look like who are confident and embrace their African heritage for the next generation to see and emulate.
- Spoken Word (Well Spoken) – Share stories in the tradition of African griots to capture our life experiences in a way to pass down information or channel the untold stories of our ancestors.
- Work-Life Balance (Well Balanced) – Share motivation and tools to deal with the challenges of adult life in terms of professional development, relationships & marriage, raising children, maintaining our health, retirement planning, and building a lasting legacy.
We have a lot of work to do and it is up to US to leverage these 3 institutions to transform and enable this Nu World Order to address the needs of the individual, family, community both nationally and internationally. We have to be about solutions like The Keys to Life and GrownManStyle.
If not US, then WHO? If not NOW, then WHEN?
Ron Spears is the owner of Spears Consulting, a corporation dedicated to helping individuals, major corporations and community service organizations embrace change to achieve successful outcomes. In addition to consulting, he is also a husband, father, spoken word artist, world traveler, and has recently launched a lifestyle blog to motivate the next generation about quality of life.