By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader
What LeBron James did for schools in his hometown Akron, Ohio was magnanimous…game changing. But it does nothing for depraved public education in Kansas City.
What Chance the Rapper did in donating a million dollars to Chicago public schools was laudable. But will it help students struggling for quality education in New Orleans?
Nicki Minaj recently paid off student loans of some of her fans and handed out scholarships to continue higher education to others.
There has always been a cadre of celebrity philanthropists that have opened their coffers for worth-while causes – particularly when it comes to children and education.
Isolated incidents of philanthropy are awe-inspiring. And such huge generosity can help break cycles of despair in the cities in which these grand gestures occur. But what ab-out the rest of the nation unaffected by their gifts? What happens to their children? To be certain, it would be irrational, unfair and impractical to call on those already giving, to do even more.
Instead, the focus should shift to the millions with millions who do little or nothing for others while spending on themselves with reckless abandon.
We have enough African American corporate, entertainment and sports magnates to turn around the condition of the Black community in a relatively short period of time.
First, let’s deal with the truth. Seventy six percent of the millionaires in the U.S. are white. Only eight percent are Black and another seven percent Hispanic.
One in every seven white families in the U.S. claim a net worth of $1 million or more. That number plummets to a mere one out of every 50 African American families.
Since we don’t have the compelling numbers enmasse, it makes it all the more imperative that brothers and sisters who do have means reach back with resources or there is no potential to break the cycle. A few folks can make a ripple, greater numbers create a tidal wave.
LeBron James, Chance the Rapper, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z and others have innate consciousness that drives their will to be a part of the solution. How do we motivate those who barely identify with their own race or, worse still, have contempt for those they consider to be of lesser status? Then there are just those who are so self-absorbed and materialistic, that the thought of giving back never occurred to them.
To be certain, the obstacles to such a plan are many. But not necessarily insurmountable.
Every time there is attention to an act like that of LeBron James, it has to at least birth the possibility of others following suit – even if for self-serving reasons. Right now altruism is not a prerequisite, we have got to improve the condition of Black America by any means necessary.
And this footnote: During the civil rights movement, there were Black celebrities like Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr., Dick Gregory and Sidney Poitier who opened their wallets to help sustain the cause. They were joined by white celebrities like Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Paul New-man, Burt Lancaster, Bob Dylan, and Charlton Heston.
There is no reason to integrate all of our thoughts, locations and actions except those that relate to pulling our children from the quagmire of despair in which they are entangled – not of their own doing. Contributing to a child’s education is not merely good for Blacks, it’s good for a democracy.
And finally, giving is not just for the rich.
How much expendable income do you waste a week, a month, a year?
Some have the means for rather large contributions. Others can help demonstrate the power of many giving whatever they can afford. The point is, the government is not coming to the rescue of our community, neither is anyone else.
The creative commitment of LeBron James needs to serve as a model for Black and white citizens at every level of income. Only then will the conversation shift from admiring heroism to taking an active role in positive social change. That would be revolutionary!
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].