Last summer, my 19-year-old brother was sentenced five years in prison.
It completely broke my heart, and I miss him every single day.
For a very long time, I felt like what happened was my fault.
I would sit around wondering if things would be different if I would have given him money whenever he asked for it, if I would’ve helped him find better things to do with his time, and if I would have helped him with his homework.
If I would have done anything. Something.
(Markesia and her brother.)
And then, once I moved on from blaming myself,
I began to blame everything else.
I would go on and on about the “school to prison pipeline” and the lack of opportunities in the black/poor communities. I would rant on Facebook about how rigged the system is, about “white privilege” , and everything else. But eventually it was like, what’s the point?
Yes those things are very real, but
why am I wasting my energy restating things that we already know?
We already know it’s hard being black.
We already know it’s tough being poor.
We already know all the problems with our community.
What are we going to DO about it?
My brother has to do his time. There’s nothing I can do about that.
All I can do is pray that angels protect him and his mind while he’s there.
But guess what?
- There are plenty of young people who are still free.
And if I put in a little effort, maybe I could help them remain that way.
I don’t even have to wait until I am a billionaire like Jay Z, to do so.
I can make moves now.
I can be the leaders my community need now,
with -3.42 in my bank account.
So, let’s back away from the Facebook post and get it poppin’.
Here are some ideas that you and I can both start implementing in our communities to make things a little better:
Pick Up Trash
How many of us ride past our local parks, or neighborhoods and shake our heads in shame at the trash on the side of the streets? What are you shaking your head for?
Get out the damn car and pick the trash up.
I’m always talking about how much I hate when people litter, but I never did anything about it. I can’t make people stop throwing soda cans on the ground, but I can go pick it up. I CAN organize meetups for people who care to come out and help me pick up trash in our community.
What’s stopping me? What’s stopping you?
Markesia and some awesome leaders cleaning up parks in Adel, Ga.
Once upon a time, communities came together regularly to host fun days for the youth. I don’t see it happening often anymore, but I love that idea.
Imagine the bond we could build if we left our living rooms every once in a while to link up with our neighbors at the park.
It’s an easy idea. Just set aside one Saturday of the month, post about it on Facebook, purchase some waters, and see what happens.
Even if it’s just a couple of kids that show up.
The participation will eventually grow.
Free “Yard Sales”
I went to go drop some things off at Goodwill and thought to myself,
“Why didn’t I just give this stuff to people I know?”
Goodwill is cool, but think about it:
you give your stuff to them for free…..
just for them to turn around it sell it…..
to people you probably don’t even know.
I know people in my community who need those clothes, books, toys, etc. It would make more sense for me to collect clothes and other materials, and host a day to give those things away for free. We got to stop letting Goodwill finesse us.
Support Local Events
I used to be totally against older people going out to the high school and football games. I didn’t get it.
Why would I show up to high school events when I graduated way back in 2014?
But now I’ve realized just how important it is to support your hometown.
Rather its a sports game, fundraiser, chest tournament, whatever.
Seeing the stands filled with people from the community who care about our youth and their accomplishments, is a beautiful thing.
Try going out to a couple of your high school football games this year.
(But don’t be a creep. Leave those kids alone.)
BE THE CHANGE
This is the most important thing you could EVER do for your community.
The kids gotta see you “being about it” and not just talking about it.
I’m striving to be all that I can in MY life so that someone can see me and feel inspired. Imagine how these kids feel would feel if I ran up on them trying to tell them what they should be doing, when I’m not even doing it myself?
Let’s take responsibility and DO MORE than complain about “what’s wrong with the world”.
Let’s be what’s right in the world.
Markesia at her book signing.
I know that these are all simple things and I know that it won’t make a detrimental difference in the community. There’s so much to fix.
But it’s a start.
I know your palms are itching, ready to get to work.
SO don’t wait on it! Start planning today.
Start hitting up your friends and family, today.
And even if you have to do it on your own, do it.
WE are the game changers.
WE are here to leave our mark.
So, let me know what you’re thinking.
What are your ideas?
Have you already started some movements?
If so, flex on me (let me know what you’re doing).
But don’t stop there. Because I will be holding you to your word.
Let’s get it done.
Peace and blessings,