Thursday, July 8, 2010

Struggle, Hope, and Action: A Response to Apathy

On June 23 of this year, Pascal Robert published an inquisitive article in the Huffington Post entitled, "What Happened to the Black Literary Canon?"(You can read it here). After articulating the profound impact mid-century authors such as James Baldwin, E. Franklin Frazier, and Cater G. Woodson had on his own intellectual up-bringing, Robert laments the possibility that our society endures, satiated by the fa├žade of "racial-blindness," or perhaps even considers itself the more absurd designation as a "post-racial America." The statistics, as he points out, prove otherwise with cold, terse facticity.

What was most inspiring about these words was not the celebration of literature, but my internalization and comprehension of the sheer magnitude of our generation's capacity to think critically and dissent against apathy. These characteristics––the individual thinker, the assertive voice advocating for the good––are not merely fundamentally "American" ideals; they embody and permeate the Ethiopian Global Initiative's mission.

While Robert focused on the indifference within the young Black community, I believe his concerns regarding apathy prove valid for the whole of American youth today. As a generation, we grew up "on-line." As individuals, we have access to unprecedented levels of information and communication––all which can be accessed near-instantenously. If the pace of time is quickening, then history––even our mothers' and fathers'––recedes deeper into ambiguity. Perhaps those pages characterizing struggle, preaching hope, and demanding action appear too ancient for our modern tastes. Though, in my opinion, these authors' remarks contain a clear and essentially modern integrity, our nation of youth may need inspiration via new means. As national test scores dwindle, religious and political extremism gain prominence, and the racial divide worsens across academic, nutritional, and labor lines, we are faced with the struggle.

In referring to the tough economic climate the United States––and particularly our youth––currently faces, Attorney General Eric Holder commented at Boston University's Class of 2010 commencement: "only when the sky is darkest are we able to see the stars." Well, my hope rests in the star-glinted eyes of the youth, for they carry the torch of insight, the burden of responsibility, and a capacity not yet bounded. My hope resides in the intrepidity of those that demand action––in organizations such as the Ethiopian Global Initiative, which embodies the universal ideals of community and compassion.

After working with EGI's President, Samuel Gebru, and our team of volunteers, it is my sincerest belief that the Ethiopian Global Initiative not only aspires to inspire: it actualizes its own insistence on initiative. With a call aimed particularly at Ethiopian American and Ethiopian youth, steps are being taken today by members of EGI to face such debilitating social problems as cultural ignorance, ethnic and racial isolation, poor health conditions, and hunger.

My insistence is that those that want to see change can and will when we rally together. In the minds of those at EGI, a movement has begun. Join it.

Jonathan Remple
Research Associate
Ethiopian Global Initiative

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