It’s a new year and by now Santa Claus made it back to his digs in the north. As folks settle-in for the winter months, there’s a flurry of sporting events that help us deal with short days and cold nights. For football fans, this season’s slate of bowl games kept them on edge due to last minute thrills or covid cancellation ills.
Not everybody was happy with things as travel was severely affected. Some folks had to jump through hoops to get back home. There were system breakdowns due to staffing shortage and bad weather. That created frustrations in air travelers who felt the airlines dropped the ball. That’s interesting when you consider other frustrations people feel these days that are tied to civic/social issues. Whether dealing with travel alerts or political drama in spurts, some might wonder, how did we get here?
It might be the case as a nation that we dropped the ball on civics. That’s basically what former military leaders shared in a public statement they released regarding the current state of American democracy. They issued a strong warning that we should recommit to civics education. SAIC has positioned itself in that lane towards building social capital, maybe on a scale that we see with organized college sports.
An advertising billboard in the south, promoting higher learning asks the question, why should we get an education? The answer on the billboard basically says, “so we can live the life of our choosing.” Similarly, civics education is important so we can move closer to becoming a more perfect Union of our choosing. That makes sense from a constitution standpoint but what about a cultural point-of-view? Well, civics is to culture as deodorant is to hygiene. Without it, the atmosphere can get funky when things smell/look bad (as happening in some areas of public affairs these days). Who we become as citizens is just as important as what we become as professionals.
SAIC’s deep dive in American history, the ‘Black to America’ story and #HometownStrong comebacks is about making history fun, civics fresh and culture feel-good. The content stream is built around a template to foster voice, change and impact in career, community and culture. It’s also about connecting the dots across history and current issues, across career dreams and purpose/passion. That’s possible when we understand the social mindset during different times throughout history as seen back in:
1. Ports & Profit – 1607
The first British settlers arrived on America’s shore in 1607 and setup shop in Jamestown Virginia. They were part of a group sponsored by the Virginia Company of London that was looking for more places to produce/sell goods. Their profit motive was also tied to creating new ports and thus trade routes to the Western World and Far East. Many struggled with disease, despair and drastic weather conditions they weren’t used to. They persevered which is why America’s story (in part) is built around profit. But when the profit-incentive led to the idea of degrading or dehumanizing people, this opened the door to slavery.
2. Property & Power – 1619
Things began to shift when 20+ Africans arrived in the Hampton area (formerly Jamestown). The early settlers were busy dividing up land amongst themselves which translated to building wealth. But beyond the physical property, human property was also in play. The settlers turned to Africans as an unpaid labor source which led to boosting their profit-driven enterprises. Whether 1619 was the first time that blacks arrived in the U.S. is often debated. But when a brand new store opens its doors there’s sometimes a “soft opening” with limited options and then a grand opening with full-scaled service.
3. Purpose & Dreams – 1620
While that was taking shape in Virginia, another group of British settlers arrived in Massachusetts. They became known as pilgrims/puritans, in part for taking a pilgrimage from a foreign land, but also because they were a religious group hoping to establish a different order for practicing their faith. They felt oppressed by the church hierarchy so the journey took on a sense of purpose to flee persecution. Maybe that’s one reason why America became known as a nation of immigrants as many others (oppressed or impressed) arrived here from countries all over the world to start anew and hopefully live the American Dream.
4. Promise & Potential – 1776
As the settlement phase of British arrivals took-off and the slavery phase of African arrivals boomed, the colonies eventually had a falling-out with the ruling class back home. Things came to a head as they felt it was time to break-off from England. The American Revolution was the road to Independence as a sovereign nation. Even-though there were attempts at Insurrection by ‘loyalists’ of Britain, the Founding Fathers drafted some important documents that would become the promise of the new nation and speak to its potential as a force for good in the world.
With news reports, political debates and social topics on generational wealth, immigration, critical race theory, reparations, religious-right, insurrection (1/6/2021) and more, they point back to key times in history. Furthermore, there’s a recurring thread on race used to stoke fears or divide/deny access and resources. With organized sports, many look past these issues if it means getting great entertainment value. So America, if you are what you say you are, a superstar, then let’s reboot civics education to rise as a nation fulfilling the promise, purpose, property and profit tied to our freedoms. That’s real social capital!
You can join the conversation and support our efforts with SAICs “Dear America 2022” Letters and Impact Statement at the Facebook ‘Hometown Chat’ Page here http://www.Facebook.com/seeamericaincolor.
Tracks: Jon Batiste – Freedom – https://youtu.be/3YHVC1DcHmo
Lupe Fiasco Ft Matthew Santos – Superstar – https://youtu.be/hVkBlsgthLg