Happy New Year, Amsterdam News readers. I am joining the op-ed staff and will be bringing you some of my thoughts and insights pertaining to New York City, politics, activism and, hopefully, much more. The Amsterdam News is an institution for so many New Yorkers, African-Americans and, really, anyone who is interested in learning more about the lives, events and concerns of African-Americans in New York City and the ever growing worldwide community.
As with all new beginnings, I am using 2015 to make new commitments personally and professionally. As we embark on this weekly journey together, I hope my columns will inform you about politics in New York City and beyond, make you challenge some of your own preexisting ideas and motivate you to become a more participatory member of your communities, large and small.
As many of you may agree, 2014 was a challenging year for Black America. The year not only made the continuing struggles for civil rights more evident but also exposed just how much work needs to be done. I plan to use this column as a way to communicate issues and ideas we need to be aware of. I also hope you will look to this column as a source of information and action steps.
Although at times the challenges facing Black America seem insurmountable, I remain optimistic that the sometimes overwhelming struggles and tribulations are not our collective fate.
By staying focused on the larger goals of human rights, social justice and community activism, substantive change is possible. As many readers can attest, this country has come a long way in just the past 50 years, but the work is nowhere near done. We must stay vigilant, active and focused on the larger goals at hand. As we continue to fight for better jobs, more affordable housing, schools we can be proud of and safe(r) communities, we can all become part of the solution to these very pertinent problems.
So here are my 2015 goals. I want to continue to make my students aware of how this city works and how they can become catalysts for real change. I want to give more time to my community and use my talents and resources to inspire those who have not had opportunities like mine. I want to spend a little less time watching television and little more time reading African-American literature and poetry to stay inspired.
I want to think more before I speak. I realize so much time is spent talking about what other people aren’t doing as opposed to focusing on ideas and people who are actually doing great things. I want to think about philanthropy, not as a million dollar endeavor, but within my own means. I realize that the likelihood of me “hitting the numbers” is pretty impossible (especially since I don’t play the lotto). Therefore, I need to “tithe” to my community in small ways that will make a large difference.
I have noticed that my $5 and $10 monthly contributions to struggling social justice organizations actually goes quite a distance. What if we all contributed $5 to a grassroots organization? That is community philanthropy at its best. And that is how we will see institutional change occur before our very eyes. Those are just a few of the things on my mind as I approach the new beginnings in 2015.
Each year is an opportunity for all of us to restart our engines, recommit our energies and repurpose old thoughts and actions. Because you are already reading the Amsterdam News, you are ahead of the game, but what else could you be doing? What else would you like to do?
I implore you to think about what 2015 will look like for you. What are your goals? What small things do you need to add to or subtract from your life to become more fulfilled and informed? This is a new journey for me. I would like to thank Elinor Tatum and the Amsterdam News for providing this platform to discuss the important issues, triumphs and and political challenges ahead.
Happy New Year, and thank you for joining me.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Fordham University and the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream.