Just after Halloween and before moving into Thanksgiving mode, word hit the airwaves that international travel restrictions would be lifted. It was one of the most welcomed news in months. Family members who were kept apart across the miles could visit one another again. When the first in-bound flight landed at JFK, it was sheer excitement as folks hugged tightly and long. But before Santa Claus could check-in for his flight from the North Pole, that news had been dampened by another Covid-19 variant.
As all this is happening on the family side of things, there’s also concern around ‘town & country’ affairs. A new report issued by Harvard’s Kennedy School that shared polling results of young people ages 18-29, showed that only 7% of them see America as a healthy democracy. It also revealed that 52% of them believe America as a democracy is either ‘in trouble’ or ‘failing.’ This info lined-up with other recent news about the first-ever time that America made the list of ‘backsliding’ democracies by an International Organization based in Sweden.
While it’s clear that family and country are on people’s minds around the holiday season, when you add in some of the events of school violence, social anxiety, health challenges and political struggle, they put matters front-and-center. SAIC’s bumper sticker slogan of “get a shot of vaccine and a boost of civics” might be a good start to helping keep families safe and citizens on point. But is it enough to get us over the ‘Covid & Conflict’ hump?
Based on a deep dive in American history, the ‘Black to America’ story and #HometownStrong comebacks, there’s more we can do towards a shared purpose. What if in 2022 our collective aim as families, communities and a nation was to have America be seen as the social capital of the world? For starters It would mean getting past some of our hangups and hiccups like:
- A culture war around vaccine shots and Sesame Street’s ‘Big Bird’.
- Attacking public officials for mindless reasons.
- Using civic insecurity or racial backlash as a ‘wink wink’ for ignorance, as a badge of honor or for giving racism a free pass.
One of the takeaways for SAIC was realizing that life in two Americas can mean seeing in black or white, living uptown or inner city as well as spreading social division or building social capital. With division vs capital, one side is influenced by keeping history/tradition in standstill while the other is influenced by making shifts in pride/promise towards goodwill. Plus, social capital opens doors for more economic opportunity and triumphs in human spirit. Consider Santa Claus and the Christmas vibe of gifts, cheer and holiday lights. If Santa is impressed by all the multi-colored lights, then how might we work towards living and branding as the United States of See America In Color? Well, we might build social capital around:
1. Media Standing
Considering the original purpose of media was to dispel conspiracies about America’s breakaway from the British, there’s another battle today around clicks, tiks, toks and snaps. Media has been expanded to include news, sports and pop culture. Just think about organized sports and being an All-American in terms of strong academics as well as superb game skills. What if we could push a similar narrative when it came to civics and culture? It would help to raise our All-American standing as media and citizens. That’s what SAIC’s civics media/marketplace collab hopes to do as we build our social capital chops.
2. Culture Bridging
When America spun-off from Britain after the Revolution, there was a kinda cooling-off period where new words were added to the American language. While the British write ‘colour’, the Americans write ‘color’ or ‘favourite’ as ‘’favorite’. Spell-check might flag one word over the other depending on where you live. These days there’re more pressing cultural ‘red flags’ to worry about. So SAIC offers a new way of spelling-out the issues. SAIC’s new language and focus can help achieve culture-bridging even if you live in different states or on different sides of the ‘social issues’ fence.
3. Life Skilling
Dr King was quoted as saying “I Have a Dream that’s deeply rooted in the American Dream.” The SAIC translation says he was talking about career dreams and civic dreams. No matter one’s field of dreams, whether sports, biz, Hollywood or other life pursuits there’s some expectation of growing in your line of work. This means knowing more, improving on your skills and maybe even gaining stature in the game. Similarly, celebrities and citizens can build social capital by growing in public affairs so that life-skilling isn’t just about making money but also about connecting the dots in history, civics, culture and social impact.
4. Solution Building
We wonder if public service for some is more about cultural performing than solution building, conflict than common good. Yea, it’s hard to legislate against hypocrisy/ego but we can educate against ignorance/deception or agitate against inequality/injustice. SAIC can add value by how we build social capital, spur civic renewal and maybe even move folks away from a love affair with an election lie, for the sake of our democracy. In other words, it’s like putting civics on a treadmill or doing ‘bend & stretch’ moves for upping our social game as “Healthy People, Healthy Planet, Healthy Public-Good.”
We learn at an early age by mastering the 3Rs, aka Reading wRiting and aRithmetic. They are building blocks for an education and achieving our career dreams. But what about those civic dreams? Maybe we need to consider a fourth ‘R’ for civic Rigor. This way we not just see ourselves as Americans from a family perspective but also raise our standing as All-American citizens. No kid wants to be on Santa’s ‘naughty’ list and no adult should want to see democracy go down the drain. So, if we can build social capital, it will be like what dreams are made of where it feels good to be alive!
You can join the conversation and support our efforts with SAICs “Dear America 2021” Letters and Impact Statement at the Facebook ‘Hometown Chat’ Page here http://www.Facebook.com/seeamericaincolor.
Tracks: Beyoncé – Be Alive – https://youtu.be/4wYdZi3tFJ4
Mickey Guyton – All American – https://youtu.be/mCUrFtE8lno