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Nicole Breedlove Headshot

Pray Less, Do More

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Sadly, there isn't a shortage of tragedies in black communities. Read any newspaper in any part of the country, from Detroit to Omaha to Chicago to New Orleans, and there will be a young black boy or girl who has been killed violently. They may have been murdered at the hands of their parents or caretakers, classmates or friends or a complete stranger. There are flowers, teddy bears and sometimes a candlelight vigil at the location where their life was lost. There are community protesters pleading to stop the violence. During this time churches urge their congregation to pray. Facebook members post comments that they are sending their prayers to the family. I just can't help but wonder, why aren't we doing something?

Praying is easy. You close your eyes and pray that all this violence ends. You say some words to God and hope that our people will one day wake up. Unfortunately, as much as we pray, the violence continues. Praying is easy but doing something is difficult. It requires work. It requires you actually caring. It requires you doing more than signing an online petition. It requires more of you than being an armchair revolutionary. You may be asked to organize and/or attend a walk or protest. You may be asked to reach out to your local police department to improve community relations. You may be asked to get the black church, and other religions, to patrol the neighborhood. You could be asked to donate your vehicle to make sure a young college student gets home safely after night classes. You could be asked to donate money to a single mom who usually has more month than check and 'those damn food stamps don't buy diapers.' You may be asked to mentor in your field of expertise to get these young people off the streets and back in a classroom. You may actually be asked to do something.

Are you still praying?! Why aren't you doing something? Why aren't our people so angry that we have retaken our neighborhoods from the drug dealers and thieves and rapists and murderers? What will you do today to ensure your neighborhood is safer? Will you begin holding your own child accountable for their behavior? Where are all the teachers?! Share your lesson plans with them. Boxers? Take these young people to the boxing ring with you. Scientists? Show them the clinical trial you're working on. Athletes? Take them with you to the court or field. Handymen? Let them see how to fix a leaky sink or put down tile. Businessmen? Give back to your communities. We need to take responsibility for them. They are our children. They shouldn't be only victims or defendants. We need to show them a better way.

Throughout my life I have given back. I've been involved and active in my community. I've signed online petitions, I've marched, I've organized marches, I've been attacked by police during protest demonstrations, I've donated money, I launched a website, I've volunteered, I've spoken on panels and I will continue to do so. Every child has a right to feel safe in their own communities. This can only be achieved by being proactive.

Get up off your knees praying. It's been long enough. Stand up and DO something.