On November 6th, 2012, the country reelected Barack Obama as president. As an African-American Democratic Chicagoan, I was ecstatic. I partied so hard Tuesday night that I had to drag myself to work Wednesday morning. After work, I really wanted to go home and sleep, but my favorite American poet, writer, activist, and educator, Nikki Giovanni, was speaking at Governors State University and I had to go see her. Ms. Giovanni never disappoints which is why she’s one of the nation’s leading social and artistic voices. Her work illustrates her commitment to civil rights, activism, family, and love.
Some of the notes I jotted down on my program during her lecture included these points:
-You cannot be reasonable with unreasonable people.
-I’m not just pro-choice. I’m pro-abortion because if you don’t want to have a baby, then I don’t want you to have it either.
-Falling in love is like riding a bicycle; it requires trust and balance.
-Now that Barack Obama has been reelected, we have to find ways to push back on some of the hatred that's coming with his second term. This election showed that racism if still alive and thriving. People of color need to actively support other people of color and organizations of color. Everyone in here should join the NAACP.
For the past month, Ms. Giovanni's advice about supporting people of color and organizations of color has stayed top of mind. To this end, I compiled the following list to help achieve her suggestion:
-Support black media, especially African-American owned and operated entities, and know the difference between entities that are owned by blacks or just showcase black voices.
- Subscribe to black magazines such as Jet, Ebony, Black Enterprise, Sister2Sister, Uptown, Upscale, O, the Oprah Magazine, and/or Essence to name a few. Know that of the magazines listed, Essence is not an African-American owned and operated entity.
- Subscribe to your local black newspapers and share stories from their websites on your social network. In Chicago, there's The Defender, Chicago Crusader, Rolling Out, Final Call, Bean Soup Times, and What’s Da Bizniz.
- Listen to radio stations and shows that progress the Black agenda. I’m not talking in general about the local hip-hop or R&B station owned by ClearChannel which is owned by Bain Capital which is owned by Mitt Romney. I’m talking about WVON in Chicago which is one of the last African-American owned and operated stations in the country and the only African-American news talk station in Chicago. I’m talking about the Tom Joyner Morning Show which promotes and raises money for numerous organizations and causes that progress people of color and the Reverend Al Sharpton's Keepin' It Real which shines a spotlight on economic and political issue affecting people of color.
-Purchase a season pass to your local American-American museum. In Chicago, that’s the DuSable Museum of African-American history. http://www.dusablemuseum.org
-Read and promote literature by and about people of color. I'm an avid reader and I list my recommendations on Goodreads.com. A few books I’m highly recommending right now are “32 Candles” by Ernessa T. Carter, “Bicycles: Love Poems” by Nikki Giovanni, “Perfect Peace” by Daniel Black, “Freeman” by Leonard Pitts, “This is How You Lose Her” by Junot Diaz, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, "143 - Love According to Musiq" by Musiq Soulschild, and of course “Single Girl Summer” by yours truly.
-Send a donation to a historically black college even if you didn't go to one. If you went to a non-HBCU (general market university), contact your Black student union and ask what you can do to help.
-Volunteer to speak at the career day at an inner-city school. Be a mentor. Be a voice and beacon of hope and inspiration.
-Support black businesses. Don't be put off by bad experiences. There are numerous quality African-American owned and operated businesses that provide excellent customer service. And circulate references and referrals for those quality businesses amongst your friends and social network. I love my dentist Dr. Anthony King at Private Dental Services.
- -A new iPhone app ‘Around the Way’ Locates Black-Owned Businesses.
- -Purchase “Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy” by Maggie Anderson from a Black bookstore and read it. Near Chicago, check out Azizi bookstore in the Lincoln Mall in Matteson.
-Host investment club or book club meetings at Black owned businesses and coffee shops.
-Start your own Black owned business.
Reelecting Barack Obama was just one step closer to Martin Luther King’s dream or equality and prosperity for African-Americans and all people of color. The job is not done. There is plenty of work to do.
Deanna Burrell is an account executive at WVON and is the author of the explosive novel, Single Girl Summer. Described as “If Waiting to Exhale and Sex and the City procreated, the bouncing baby would read like Single Girl Summer,” the novel tells the story of three women navigating the ups and downs of life during one special summer in Chicago. Find out more at http://www.singlegirlsummer.com.