Now What?

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Two weeks after a dismal effort in the races for the mayor’s office and aldermanic seats, what is next for Black Chicago in order to make a positive difference?

Two weeks after a dismal effort in the races for the mayor’s office and aldermanic seats, what is next for Black Chicago in order to make a positive difference?

First, I gave you one week to get over the disappointment of Election Night 2011.

And yes, I’m referring to the results at the polls as well as the disappointing number of you that apparently took the time to get to the polls.

After that, I had to give myself a week to get over the flu via the wonderfully changing weather that makes Chicago unique.

So, with two weeks passed since the historic 2011 elections here in Chicago – the elections that were supposed to signify a new direction of leadership for Black Chicagoans and perhaps even the youth of the city of all races – we have had enough time to rest, recover, and responsibly ask the question:

Now what?

For those that were complicit with the requests for a consensus Black candidate during the mayoral campaign season but were unable or lethargic in rousing the masses to get behind former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, what is on the horizon that will give you the spark of inspiration to act more than what many of us did during the past several months politically? For those that were not on board with the "Harold to Carol" movement, what is the project that will foster a sense of unity in order to advance the common lot of our people here in Chicago, particularly at a time when so much within our communities needs fixing?

Now what, folks?

Now what will demand our common focus, something that makes us similar in terms of connection and attention than this mayoral election was, where "our" candidate came in 4th place in a city where we make up over 40 percent of the electorate? Now what is supposed to be the common thread that ties us together in an undeniable and inclusive fashion? What will be that issue or cause that makes us continuously wake up in the middle of the night with a determination that stirs our collective spirit regularly, disallowing us from resting until things are made right? Now what is the "powder keg" set of initiatives or goals that are supposed to spark a new movement of activism, angst, and anxiety that will not be quelled until those goals are met and our collective conditions are improved?

Now what?

With stories like the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Texas (http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/03/08/texas.assault.arrests/index.html?iref=allsearch) and countless untold tales of sexual abuse occurring at our doorsteps everyday, there is plenty for us to get fired up about just on terms of misogyny alone. Yet, there is more. With the ongoing academic atrophy of our youth and the subsequent downsizing of their life options, there is plenty for us to stay fired up about even if you are in the mix of changing our communities already. With the lack of Black love, gender respect, youth mentoring and community healing that we see in the streets of our neighborhoods, there is plenty for us to engage and rectify immediately.

Simply put, there needs to be a new paradigm of engagement, accountability, and action that pulls us into a better collective place for our communities, a shift that does not equate "civic pride" with a vote for one particular local candidate (e.g., Moseley Braun in 2011) or support of one participant during a prolonged election season (e.g., President Obama in 2008.) Two weeks removed from the excitement (and perhaps anxiety) of the mayoral election, Black Chicago risks going back to the same quasi-conscious, lethargic existence that condones the political, social, and economic conditions of our communities through repeatedly telling ourselves that we are trying, we are not happy, and we need to do something about it – all without suitable levels of activity or participants.

Now what, folks – namely, now what are we going to do?

I am not necessarily advocating a protest against the past civic leadership or some immediate measure to defy the future of Chicago politics proactively. I am not even referring to an absolute need for new leadership within Black Chicago to transition us from the best of the 20th century into claiming the best of the 21st century.

(With that said, I am keenly of the belief that the only generation that can save Black America right now is Generation X, for they are the generation most capable of communicating with, relating to, and bridging together the 4 generations of Black Americans currently alive today, thus giving them the most potential – and highest obligation – to act responsibly without delay.)

What must be asked – and, in reply, what must be answered with conviction – is the social question of what set of tangible goals will be placed before the community (whether the community asks for them explicitly or implicitly) in order to implement rehabilitation and recovery within the community out of love (whether the community acts as an active or passive participant in positive change for the right reasons.) Often, change is not a dynamic or social order that comes into being after permission is sought from and granted by the people most impacted. Usually, it impressed upon the people by a select few that impose their will through love, might, or malice – often with disastrous reasons. If the latter two options have so often played a role in impacting our communities for all of the wrong reasons – often through elections, no less – why can’t we take the moment now after this election to apply the former (i.e., love) to impact our communities for all of the right reasons? People may complain about the lack of civic (and racial) pride on February 22, but the deeper (and more important) question is the level of civic pride moving forward. Selling out the race was not merely a matter of setting our hands against Ambassador Moseley Braun in February (through omission or commission, depending on how you voted.) Selling out our race will truly come from keeping our hands in our pockets come this spring and summer through any continued apathy that keeps our politics, economic, academics, and society both lethally toxic yet sadly tolerable.

Now what, folks – namely, now what are we going to do…or, perhaps, what are you going to do? Did electing change end on February 22, or did choosing a new direction for Chicago only begin?

Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator and the host of “Launching Chicago with Lenny McAllister” on The Talk of Chicago 1690 AM WVON (www.wvon.com). He is currently featured on the My50Chicago website as a guest on "Perspectives" with host Monique Caradine Kitchens.  He is the author of the upcoming edition of the book, “The Obama Era, Part I (2008-2010): Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative).” Follow him at www.twitter.com/lennyhhr  and on Facebook at www.tinyurl.com/lennyfacebook .

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