Like you, I ache over the state of emergency in Black America: that we able adults are allowing our vulnerable young to fall. That we are leaving outside our sanctuary doors "the least of these." That legions of our children are without textbooks, art and technology training in failing schools. That 85 percent of Black fourth-graders read below grade level and a million Black males are on lockdown. That there is no strategic alliance among Black leaders, no agreed-upon agenda. That we're so stressed, moving fast, but losing ground in every quarter critical to Black progress.
We have no time to waste. The work is ours to do, and the call to action is now! In 2009, the National CARES Mentoring Movement organized an intergenerational group of some of the finest minds to create a consciousness-changing curriculum we called A New Way Forward: Healing What’s Hurting Black America. Published in December of 2010, our vision then, as it remains, is to anchor Black people solidly in our Highest Self, and help us heal our hurt, depression and self-denial, which is rarely named or recognized but has been internalized over generations and today prevents us from caring well for ourselves and our vulnerable young. A New Way Forward is for our transformation.
Working for a year with committed community and faith leaders in Oakland, California, we brought to life the teaching of our curriculum in a series of pilot trainings we will now be taking nationwide—into faith institutions and schools, onto military bases for children of deployed parents—and anywhere the community calls for healing. Our deeply held belief is that if we are to reclaim and restore our children, we must be brave enough to reclaim and restore ourselves. With all we have witnessed and borne, African Americans need and deserve a safe place to heal and achieve wellness for our body, mind and spirit.
This is the A New Way Forward mission: an initiative here to help revitalize us, to heal the incalculable damage done to us by more than three centuries of slavery, Jim Crow practices and racism. It is to root in us what our ancestors knew: No matter how rough the course, we must believe the promise. We are not at the mercy of outside forces. Our power resides where it has always been-within us, with our God and in unity.
National CARES Mentoring Movement CEO and founder, Susan L. Taylor, is the architect of A New Way Forward.