Written by Frank T. Scruggs
Often African American youths and especially, African-Canadian youths need to be reminded of the rich heritage that the African-Canadian people share. Despite many perceived differences most people want to live in communities that are safe, healthy, secure and prosperous; most people want a society free of many of the social problems that plague our Black communities. Black Canadians are one of the founding peoples of Canada and have been a part of Canada since 1604. The first official record of a Black person in Canada was a Black Portuguese explorer, named Mathieu Da Costa, whom served as a guide and interpreter for Samuel De Champlain a French explorer who reputedly discovered the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes. Young people therefore need to be reminded to share and to reconnect with the African spirit of greatness and once again learn to take responsibility for self and control of one’s own destiny. This helps forego the need and desire to join gangs to be a part of something bigger.
The need to take responsibility for one’s own health, sexual behavior and interpersonal relations of is to embrace life. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “in the United States, HIV-related death has the greatest impact on young and middle-aged adults, particularly racial and ethnic minorities…among African American men in this age group, HIV infection has been the leading cause of death since 1991. In 1998, among Black women 25-44 years old, HIV infection was the third leading cause of death. Many of these young adults likely were infected in their teens and twenties. It has been estimated that at least half of all new HIV infections in the United States are among people under 25, and the majority of young people are infected sexually.”
James Henslin, a sociology professor at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville has defined social problems as those aspects of society that people are concerned about and would like to change. Some of the social problems that plague our Black communities are schools and education, crime and the disproportion of Black people incarcerated, and structural racism and white privilege in the workplace.
The necessity for Black family to connect, protect and nurture is of primary concern when reflecting on the social problems faced by the Black community, internationally. The family is the basic unit of every society and all societies the family needs to structure itself to meet the following essential needs for the survival which include the following:
- Communication among members
- Production of goods and services
- Distribution of goods and services
- Protection and defense
- Replacement of members (death, marriage, immigration)
- Re-socialization of newcomers (family, society)
- Control of members (i.e., to ensure society’s institutions function and conflict is reduced or managed
The ability to change our community for the better reside with those of us who are adults today, we have influence and know how to instill the right values and through our organizations, sororities and fraternities to which we belong; we ourselves can encourage government to support our efforts. As African people we have a responsibility to solve the social problems of our own Black communities; especially the experienced and educated. We must therefore first begin by sharing our ideas one with another and mainly by confronting, and scientifically studying and taking responsibility our own social problems we, not others must choose how to shape, maintain and grow a safe, healthy and prosperous Black Community. Pumoja Tutashinde (Together we win).