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Lesson from the election: We must care for ourselves

My friends, as I look back at the recent election and its result, I can come to only one conclusion, and I am afraid it is not a very hopeful one: We are on our own, and we must find ways to come together and care for ourselves.

Neither political party is looking out for us, and no one is going to ride in and save us. Our communities face serious issues, ranging from inadequate education to criminal justice inequities to mental health and drug crises. It doesn’t matter who the president is. Our political leaders have failed us year after year, election after election.

Even more than most, this election, instead of shedding light and offering hope, has pushed us into a darker place, where conspiracy theories replace facts, and political posturing takes the place of policy.

If I have a hopeful note to offer, it is that I know we are strong, and that we have shown time and again that we can come together when times are hard. We came together as a community after the Aurora theater shootings. We gathered around the Diol family after five members were murdered in an arson fire. Communities rallied around victims of this fall’s series of wildfires in the mountains.

Now we need to show that we can come together and make change not only when facing a specific crisis, but always, at all times. If the ongoing dysfunction revealed by this election teaches us anything, it is that we must take care of ourselves.

Our education systems have failed us during the pandemic. At African Leadership Group, we have created an online school support program to help prevent our children from falling far behind. Let that serve as an example of the kind of action we can take together.

The issue of criminal justice reform is enormous, and not something we can resolve on our own. We can, however, begin to address root causes. We know that much of the crime that occurs in this country results from an epidemic of mental illness. As a community, let’s put together programs to start to address this issue. None of us can solve this problem on our own, but together we can make major progress.

This means coming together in ways we have not done up until now. African immigrants alone can not solve the problems that plague us. African Americans alone cannot solve them. Caucasians alone cannot solve them.Together, however, we can make significant progress.

It is also time to accelerate the cultivation of political leaders from our community. Our current elected officials, with a few exceptions, have shown that they cannot get it done or worse, they don’t care. We need more seats at the table so we can look out for our own best interests.

Together we can build our community and make it stronger. We can identify programs that address the challenges we face in education, healthcare, criminal justice reform. We can inform and educate, and then eradicate the problems facing our community.

I want to conclude by wishing everyone a better 2021. Please stay safe, keep loving one another and caring for each other.

Papa Dia
Papa Dia
Papa Dia is Founder and President of the African Leadership Group. A native of Senegal, Papa immigrated to Denver in 1998. He used his first job, stocking books, to teach himself how to read, write, and speak English. Beginning with an entry-level position in a local bank, over the next 17 years, Papa ultimately climbed the ranks to become a regional vice president. In 2017, Papa left his banking career to focus his full attention on running and growing ALG.

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