It was the news story that carried the day! Heavy-duty cranes took up positions to move post-civil war statues from the public square to museums. This action was brewing for some time but gained momentum after events in Charlottesville in 2017. One official shared the view that “I’m not disappointed in how this day has gone because it’s been really wonderful to see people get so excited about history.”
There’s always been a debate on why it takes a tragedy or widespread social unrest for change to happen. And even then, sometimes the change doesn’t fully address the situation at a root cause level. That thought certainly went into how SAIC came to be. From the deep dive in American history, the ‘Black to America’ story and #HometownStrong comebacks, there were certain issues and complaints from the 50s and 60s that kept resurfacing in the 90s & 2Ks.
Part of what makes SAIC a social-edge campaign/platform is from what happens in the tech space. When an app or software system is released in the marketplace, the product team reviews errors found in the development process. This helps them make changes for the next upgrade. Some of the corrections also come from complaints made by customers using the product. This root cause analysis ensures that problems found aren’t carried forward in the next release. Then, additional ‘smarts’ and new features get added to the update by covering the wider ‘true vs false’ system conditions. This requires some product knowledge and market awareness to minimize future ‘bugs’ or operating pitfalls.
What if we could do the same by making culture relevant beyond hashtags, street protests and viral slogans/videos? These days it seems where the money resides on the sidelines and where the solution is missing, need to connect. We see examples of this dilemma when folks resort to rage marketing, woke bashing, performance art or botched journalism (selling books based on hold-back-the-facts reporting). Plus, some would prefer to have social consciousness seen as corny and civic ignorance seen as cool. But there’re other options for channeling community energy, whether through parent activism or broader civic participation as individuals and hometowns.
SAIC’s effort to “make history fun, civics fresh and culture feel-good” is about connecting the dots and bridging social divides. We’re better able to separate ‘truth vs falsehood’ concerns that tend to inflame civic/social issues. SAIC got clues on this based on what folks used to do to add smarts, style and status to their social game. One example is how some founding fathers were inspired by the Enlightenment Age where learning, facts and reasoning were valued over ideology and stuck-in-the-mud thinking. Another example is in how African-Americans benefited from starting many schools, colleges and local towns after the civil war. So SAIC updated this mindset, added in some ‘smarts’ and packaged it towards change through:
Consider that there was a time when blacks were seen as inferior and viewed by those in religious circles as having ‘the curse of Ham’. That belief was used to demean, dehumanize and discriminate based on skin color. These days, the idea of social consciousness is being spun in some circles in a similar ‘curse’ kinda way to discredit and distract. We always hear about the 3Rs in basic education. Well, SAIC took things a step further by developing 5Rs for civics education: Rights, Responsibility, Rigor, Reach & Role. These deepen us in roots & culture for greater understanding and social savvy.
The work of equality has been ongoing since America’s founding. It’s been tackled in different ways throughout history by abolitionists and civil rights activists. The period from the Supreme Court rulings of Plessy vs Ferguson in 1896 to Brown vs Board of Education in 1954 saw the greatest push in this area. Now the focus isn’t just about equality but also equity. That’s what the nomination of the first black woman on the Supreme Court is about. It’s in showing that with the expertise and when given the chance, other folks can do the work and be their best at the task. That’s kinda how we went from black & white TV to color TV. We went from just ‘white’ light in the box to three streams of colored light in the box for a better picture. Equity gives a better picture of America.
The trucker protests in Canada seem to be on the move. Word is that some are headed to Washington D.C. The jury is still out on what they’re trying to achieve but it’s one example of how the idea of empowerment has become more about generating media coverage than making a difference. What the SAIC framework allows is for real empowerment in the areas of civics, career, community and culture thru gains in voice, change and impact. In other words, as the saying goes “give a man a fish you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” for your best life experiences over time.
There’s a difference between excitement and engagement. Excitement often shows up as a trend. Engagement often shows up as a fixture. It’s like when a driver hits the gas to get the tires screeching, that’s excitement. There might even be tire marks to prove it. But engagement is what happens after the smoke clears. We can all find moments where we complain or protest or make a scene. But after the dust settles, what role are we gonna play to keep the fire of democracy burning or to make change happen? Was the ‘tire spinning’ just about social media branding or misinformation pushing?
Beyond the trucker protests and some of the news stories like those about banning books or students being bullied or grievance spreading, is folks trying to forge a sense of community. They want to build support around like-mindedness. Humans are social beings so in a sense the desire for community is normal. But if we add ‘smarts’, swag, status and more, we can be like those that came before us who embraced change for the greater good. We can have civic/career dreams come to life by playing hard, not just counting clicks or dollars but creating shifts and landing among the shining stars.
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: Drake – Come to Life – https://youtu.be/0at_WWsVeVA
Earth, Wind & Fire – Shining Star – https://youtu.be/BPtSPJK8rx8