written by Gregory Meriweather @RadioBlackOn (Twitter)
I was riding in the car after my son’s cross-country meet (yes black boys run cross-country), and I began asking him questions. I asked him, “In science, what would that McDonald’s sign be called?” He looked puzzled, and did not have an answer. Of course, that did not cause me to stop asking questions. I then asked, “What is the scientific term for the grass that you see?” He’s like, “Dad, I don’t understand what you are asking me.” After asking him numerous questions, that I know had the same answer, I then went on to tell him that these things are called “matter.”
According to science, matter is physical substance in general, as distinct from mind and spirit; (in physics) that which occupies space and possesses rest mass, especially as distinct from energy. I then went on to say that this is a key component to fixing some of the ills of our community. Most of the things that we see in our communities are simply matter (drugs, dilapidated houses, etc.). The things that take up space in our community, are simply matter, or “the matter” if you will.
Is focusing on the matter the solution to fixing our communities? Some believe it is, but I think we must dig deeper into the matter (no pun intended).
Crime prevention initiatives are going on all around the country. Billions of dollars are being distributed to community groups, who believe they have the solutions to decrease murder, and homicides in the African-American/Black community. Yet, we see the numbers still rising each and every year; which leads me to ask, “How do they believe what they are doing is working?” and “Is marching an effective way to stop violence?”
When Martin Luther King Jr. was leading marches in the South, it was to bring a halt to the tyranny that Black people were facing on a daily basis. When they crossed the Edmond Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, they were marching for the right to vote. The Montgomery bus boycotts were about equality, and civil rights. So what are we marching about today?
I often see people marching when a cop kills a Black person, but seldom do I see a march when someone Black kills another Black person. I am not seeing our people coming forward when a murder is not solved, yet multiple cell phones have footage of actual murders on them. I am seeing a lot of leaders bragging about how many people came to their marches, but I am not seeing the results of the temporary unification. What has happened to the genuine concern for humanity, when people want to get paid for walking their own neighborhoods? Why are Pastors so focused on grant money as opposed to the Great Commission which commands them to go into the world, and create positive change?
Nothing seems genuine anymore. People seem more excited about being on the news, and receiving grant money, than they do about actually making a difference in the communities that so disparately need help. Which leads to my next question.
Where is the matter?
When I walk into a community and I see uncut yards, paint chipping on homes, and trash everywhere, I have to ask the same question; where is the matter? When I see women posting half naked selfies on Instagram, and young men thuggin’, with the desire to become street legends with money longer than “Scottie Pippen’s arms,” instead of wanting to be what they would call boring, successful citizens, I must ask the question; Where is the matter?
When I look at cities like Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Indianapolis, where murder is becoming as normal as the sun’s rising and setting, I must ask the question: Where is the matter?
As we jump back to the conversation between my son, and I we must remember what matter is. Then we must realize that there are natural matters that God has created, and then there is matter that we have created ourselves.
If “Mind over Matter” is real, then why are we so focused on the matters, than we are the minds? There are so many clichés as it relates to mind over matter. I remember one of my teachers telling me that a cluttered desk, is a cluttered mind. I believe that she was telling me that my mind created the clutter. Would that not hold true to the matters of our communities? I believe so.
So why are so many leaders focusing on the matter than they are the mind? Focusing on the minds would be a much harder fix, but one that would be lasting. If you walk into a neighborhood, and begin to beautify it, but never beautify the minds of the people who actually live there, then you have done nothing to maintain it. It will eventually go right back to being what it was before you came in. We must have conversations with the people of our communities. We must ask them uncomfortable question like, “What do you believe is holding you back?” We must ask, “What are you afraid of?” Then we must create programs that help remove the barriers (matter) that are in their minds. You will find that the thing that is taking up the most “space” resides in the minds of the people in our communities.
The solution to the ills of the world is not a what, but more of a where. So, the next time someone asks you “What’s the matter?” Simply, correct them, and say, ” I do not know what’s the matter, but I can truly tell you the “where’s” the matter. Which is a simple answer.
It’s in the minds.