White communities involved in poor communities of color

Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson
2 years ago
1 posts

For some time, well before the beginning of the last president's term in office began, I was concerned that democracy was not working. There have been numerous books and studies published on a range of issues pertaining to its problems. For example, several research studies have shown how the will of the people has been ignored in favor of the will of the wealthy. After looking into democracy for a while, however, it became apparent that an important part of the power of the people in democracy depends on how they worked together in community. So, my focus modified at bit from primarily democracy to the effective practice of community and its impact on democracy. I wanted to find some way to get people involved in and working together on aspects of their community that are important to them. During this search, I came upon ABCD and although it appears to be mostly involved in poorer communities, it seemed to me that it would also work in middle class communities. That is, all communities have needs as well as limited funds to deal with all of them and a collection of human, social and other capital in their community that could be identified and involved in solving community problems. As people come together to identify problems and share their talents, skills and experiences, they can share their assets to create a cohesive community to address their problems. This process builds sufficient togetherness to generate the power to meet additional needs through the use of democracy as a byproduct of their cooperative efforts.

There is another part of this sequence of events that started in my examination of the conditions that are necessary for well-functioning democracy. In particular, this part of the idea is associated with liberty and happiness as well as the equal opportunity promised in the Declaration of Independence. I live in Pennington, New Jersey. It is primarily white and middle class with some wealthy as well. Close to us is Trenton which is primarily people of color and poor with an unfortunate number of homeless and very poor. The question is how we can treat each other as equals to enhance our chances of a better functioning democracy for both communities and how do the people in Trenton find their way out of the poverty with the dignity and respect that preserves the equality needed in a well-functioning democracy. Again, ABCD seemed a possible way to work with the community of Trenton finding solution and human assets in both communities to address the problems the communities could share. Since this is a cooperative effort, it can be part of a functioning democracy as long as we find the capacity to treat each other as equals with valuable, shared assets instead what usually happens in an interaction between the poor and needy and beneficent white donors.

I see the Pennington community as the first step and if we can make Pennington work and appreciate the capacity of community to enrich lives and promote democracy. The appreciation for the capacity of community in Pennington could then move toward a larger community building effort by working with Trenton in a coalition community of people solving shared problems.

The problem I have encountered is one of inertia. People think the idea is too big and too difficult to work. I am open to any suggestions that people might have to convince those in the communities that with small incremental steps, it is possible and could have real benefits for the community and the society in which it exists. Thanks, Mike Wilson drmikewilson@yahoo.com democracybuilding.org