The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Covenant

Currently #1 on the Amazon bestseller list is a book called “The Covenant With Black America.”  The book is brainchild of a group consisting, in part, of such notables as Tavis Smiley and Cornel West.  Last night I attended a meeting in South Central L.A. during which thousands turned out to hear The Covenant’s basic principles and intent discussed.  This scene, thousands of black folks turning out to hear about creating a voting block based on shared values and needs in a way that hasn’t been seen in America in decades…if ever.  This was clear-headed, well-reasoned, mercilessly self-critical stuff, and I loved hearing it.  But you’d also better believe that mixed in with the verbal crucifixion of drug dealers, gangster rappers and sell-out black politicians, there was plenty of criticism of white America too.

Fascinating.  Even moreso afterward, when Smiley gathered a group of media folks together, including some very well known television and film actors.  And the conversation that followed was angry, loving, smarter than hell, honest, and cautiously optimistic.

Basically, the covenants are ten principles that, to me, seem as sane and direct a series of demands/goals as could be formulated.  There is nothing here of hatred or blame, really, just a demand for discipline within the black community and justice from those outside it.  Fair enough.

Here are the ten, and I don’t see how anyone could fail to want these for their community, or reasonably deny them of others.  The only disagreements might be the degree that they are attainable, or how much those inside the damaged community should or can take responsibility.  How much can be done by individuals, and to what degree organization is needed.  Well, according to those at the meeting, without “Organization” the powers that be will simply ignore you.  More on all these thoughts later.  Right now, here are the Covenants:

1) Securing the Right to Healthcare and Well-being.
establishing a system of public education in which all children achieve at high levels and reach their full potential.
Correcting the system of unequal justice.
Fostering accountable community-centered policing.
Ensuring broad access to affordable neighborhoods that connect to opportunity.
Claiming our democracy
Strengthening our rural roots.
Accessng good jobs, wealth, and economic prosperity.
Assuring Environmental Justice for all
Closing the racial digital divide.

Again, more thoughts on all of these in the days to come.  Frankly, I think it’s exciting to watch. I can’t find a single thing to really argue with, and that amazes me.   Big things arise from movements like this. 

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