Ubuntu: A universal bond that connects all of us

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February is Black History month- which means that during this month we remember the African Americans who have made history and have helped shape America into what it is today. Black history has had an impact on everyone with so many innovative and useful things that we often are unaware of or take for granted everyday. During Black History month we take the time to reflect on the achievements, contributions, struggles and progress of African Americans in America. 

  Most people will agree that America is currently pretty divided along political, cultural and social lines. A lot of these topics have become hot-button issues. With so much hostility and division, it’s unfortunate but no wonder why the ever sounding drumbeat of violence, sexual assault and abuse are seemingly becoming “normal” on every news cycle. The fear and confusion that is caused by so much negativity is not new to the human race. It reminds me of a time after apartheid in South Africa. After that dark time, there was a feeling of hope embodied in the keyword of the reconciliation process known as Ubuntu!  Pronounced-OH-bun-tu.

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Ubuntu is a belief in a universal bond that connects all of us. It is a quality that includes the essential human virtues of Compassion and Humanity. Ubuntu believes I am a human because I belong. This simple but powerful philosophy should be on everyone’s mind irrespective of race, creed or color. I believe that the African American community needs to rally itself to address what I believe is the biggest challenge facing us today, the breakdown of the FAMILY structure in this population.  We have one of the highest rates of fatherless/motherless homes in the world. This crisis is something I witnessed first hand at the Goshen Secure Juvenile Center where I have worked and volunteered for the past 5 years. Most of the young men I work with don’t have Fathers or their Father is incarcerated.  A further 50% have no Mothers and so are raised by their grandmothers and other relatives. My observations working at this facility have guided my conclusions that the biggest need in the African American community, the need for Mentors and Leaders who can “step in the gap” in the spirit of Ubuntu or community.

 In the words of Maya Angelou:
“Nobody can know where they are going, unless they know where they have been”.

As we come together to celebrate another Black History month, we must take the time to understand that if we don’t all step up and find ways to be influential in the lives of our youth population- whether they are own kids, neighborhood kids, troubled school kids or incarcerated kids- we will all have consequences to pay.  These same kids, as my friend used to say, will become your neighbors and date your sons and daughters! They will grow up as respected citizens or not. You reap what you sow.

The African American community is equipped with great talents and strengths. We have had great successes and now it is time to step up and use these talents we have been so mightily blessed with to influence our youth. I truly believe that we should encourage one another, black, white, brown or any color under the sun, (especially within the African American community) to step up the mentorship of our youth. We stand to receive both personal and societal benefits from activating Ubuntu positively towards our own and others.
 

Ayo Jam