Here is my response to a story about a poor, black community surrounded by the wealthy north of Houston, Texas:
It is SO easy to blame the victims of society for their illnesses, poverty, crime, and living conditions, rather than to get to the root of the problem.
First, Marie Leonard is to be commended for having the fortitude to even tell this story. This is a story that troubles the conscience of those who are doing well, and care little for those who have not developed to their position of doing well. The story is also an embarrassing one to the very successful surrounding towns, and an embarrassment to Montgomery County.
Second, those who have not walked in the shoes of those who carry generational curses, historic frustrations, lack connections to those with resources, and continue to endure racial discrimination from those unwilling to help more, find it easy to throw stones at those who continue to seek help for self improvement.
Third, crime is often an issue for those who don’t know how to develop their moral fortitude, are not connected to positive role models, live in anger and frustration, and find it easier to take from others, including those who hurt as much as they do. When former Governor Ronald Reagan met with a key leader of the Los Angeles riots some years ago, he asked the leader (without any news media present) what the leader wanted in life. When the leader saw that Governor Reagan was genuinely interested in his future, he shared his heart. Without trying to do a “program make-over” of this young man, Governor Reagan quietly shared the young man’s story with those with resources. They reached out to the young man with an open understanding of his felt needs (Maslow?). They used their resources without strings attached. Soon, this young man was enrolled in college, went on to get a university degree, began to share the frustrations of young, African American men in his community who were like him, and was taught how to use the American free enterprise system to develop his latent talents.
It didn’t take long for this particular former gang member, criminal, and riot leader to write a book. He was offered a professorship at a prestigious university after earning his doctorate, and was asked to speak to others in education and economics. He traveled to Africa and other countries and discovered that he lived in one of the best countries in the world—a country that was not perfect, nor a country that had rushed to solve its racial discrimination against African Americans, but a country still in development, with some willing to reach out to help individuals like him.
Along the way of this young man’s development, some of his former gang members became concerned, and continually tried to get him to help them with their criminal plans to “pay the white man back” for slavery, segregation, racism, and being unwilling to help them get a piece of the action of American enterprise. The young man listened to them, but explained he was too busy with his education, enjoying his better living conditions, and learning how to succeed in “this white man’s world” to give leadership. A few understood, listened, and began to follow his new path.
Unfortunately, many others were so entrenched in their negative way of life that they could not see how they could ever achieve any “success” without money from drugs, prostitution, and other criminal activity. Some in this group went to prison; some died; and others are hopelessly homeless or barely surviving.
I wonder how many of those in Tamina would continue to commit crime if just a few people in The Woodlands would befriend them, showing them how to be successful in school and in positive talent development, and made the investment to build Tamina into a successful, planned community—with proper sanitation that could draw in development money? We have all made mistakes in our past.
It was a mistake to turn warriors from Africa into slaves, taking away their culture and language, and using many as breeding creatures to ensure the production of more cheap labor without any say-so regarding their future. It was a mistake to give slaves freedom without the resources for their development. It was a mistake for those with power over slaves and former slaves to hang thousands of them from trees just because of anger and frustration from those who could no longer legally control them. It was a mistake for the federal government to pull out federal troops after the Civil War just so a presidential election could be ensured without more delay, and not provide for the protection of slaves and former slaves from the anger of southern whites who saw blacks as the reason for their diminished income and control of their way of prosperous living provided by slavery.
It was wrong for those in control of education, economics, and personal development to keep proper education, good-paying jobs, decent housing, and a better future away from former slaves and their descendants, allowing anger and bitterness to smolder and develop violent criminals we continue to see in many of our communities. Such bitterness and anger has caused such criminal minds to take out their frustrations on members of their own society who often don’t have the resources to fight back. It was a mistake for those in power to keep resources away from communities developed by the children of former slaves until those with power forced such communities to fold, allowing those with resources to grab up the land for little to no cash investment.
It was a mistake for those with resources to again make millions, and perhaps, billions, from land owned by the children of former slaves without sharing such resources with those who had tried to developed towns where they could be safe and allowed to develop economic enterprises for the benefit of their children. However, we can no longer allow ourselves to blame the victims for their current conditions.
We can no longer withhold resources from other historically disadvantaged Americans who just want partnerships with their fellow Americans who have acquired much because they had access to information and resources for success without the chains of their past holding them back from acquiring the success in The Woodlands and surrounding areas. What a great opportunity we have to turn Tamina into a thriving sub-township that could show the world how some successful Americans made it possible for some lesser successful Americans save a small portion of their history preserved for future generations, and acquire just a little bit of the American Dream!
[To read the story that prompted this article, read the initial news article in “Community Impact” Woodland News December 9, 2015 at: http://communityimpact.com/houston/the-woodlands/news/2015/12/09/tamina-community-faces-challenges-as-area-expands/