By MIKE FOWLER
For the Herald-Journal
Published: Sunday, September 21, 2008
I would like to propose a challenge to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, including the national, state and local branches. Many citizens, including myself, believe we have more pressing issues to address than the antiquated battle over the Confederate battle flag.
Since the boycott began in 2000, here is an update on the health of families in our state, and particularly of African-Americans:
Our families’ obesity rates are causing some serious ramifications, particularly juvenile diabetes, stroke and heart disease. African-American health-related rates are off the charts. Cases of HIV/AIDS among black women are still way out of proportion. African-Americans make up at least 75 percent of all new reported cases of infection. We may want to think about boycotting sex instead of the Confederate flag.
As you read this, a woman is being abused in America. And South Carolina has one of the highest domestic violence rates in the country. Many parents are losing their children due to senseless violence. The sense of community for a lot of youths is nonexistent. Instead, they are choosing destructive rather than constructive actions.
And contrary to popular belief, the community is in crisis. Black people are twice as likely to lose their homes in this foreclosure mess, and they are three times more likely to be homeless and without food for at least two days. (I’m sure the Soup Kitchen would appreciate the efforts of the NAACP to assist it in doing something noteworthy and substantive.)
The NAACP’s economic boycott will only hurt the poor people working in the hotels and restaurants and those working in the service industry along the coast. Many of these people are poor African-Americans who must continue to have a viable means of feeding their children. Tourism is a major industry in this state, and we all should do what we can to ensure more dollars for the maximum amount of people instead of hurting those for whom we should be advocating.
I have a challenge for the NAACP. Instead of conducting a boycott, how about conducting a statewide job fair and a summit on HIV/AIDS, obesity, education reform and economic development? It’s time for the NAACP to become more relevant in the lives of Americans, especially those Americans who are seriously hurting from bad policies and their negative influences. I thought the NAACP was about the "advancement" of people and not about an impediment to growth.
I propose that the organization develop a five-point plan to deal with the very serious issues affecting black people: lack of serious education reform, the prison industrial complex mentality, economic deprivation, chronic illness and diseases and community development. These issues will require all of our talents, skills, abilities and political will.
The Confederate flag issue is dead! It’s time to let sleeping dogs lie and move on to issues of more substance that are having an epidemic effect on the black community. This issue will only cause more conflict and lost resources.
If we are going to go to battle, let us go to battle for something other than a piece of cloth. While the Confederate flag has been removed from the Statehouse dome, our community has been ravaged and is dying from neglect and mayhem.
It’s time to move on!
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