Over the past couple of months, I have explored the 4Es: Economics, Employment, Education and Ex-Offenders, calling them our most important issues as individuals. I stated that if we solve the 4Es throughout our community, 95 percent of the problems we have could be solved. And I heard from many of you via e-mail.

Today, I want to discuss the 5th E.

If the other four Es can solve 95 percent of our problems, then that leaves a 5-percent balance. The 5th E is the most important E of all. Why? Because it is 100 percent of the reason why we end up in the situations and predicaments we find ourselves in. It is the reason why many of us fail to achieve and to succeed. It is the reason why our community is like it is. I won’t waste a lot of space defining it further.

The 5th E that is holding far too many of us hostage is Excuses.

That’s right! Those damn excuses we give for anything and everything?”the “why,” “because,” “uuh,” “you don’t understand,” and so forth and so on that come out of people’s mouths. And personally, I have had my fill of hearing them.

My anger over the excuses is not that they aren’t valid. In most instances they are. But I am tired of dealing with people who can only see the lemons. I want to deal with those who can see the lemons and then make lemonade!

I have an excellent older friend who at times can be a mentor and advisor. But the generational differences can be heard whenever he begins his rebuke with the words, “Arlene, you just don’t understand …”

And you know what? I don’t want to understand!

I don’t want to hear the stories any longer about how “welfare kept the man out of the house and therefore …” Welfare, as it was once known, is long over. Today we have men with diamond earrings in their ears, cellphones, and designer jeans hanging below their butts, pulling out Link cards and showing no shame in paying for their groceries with it. So whatever legacies welfare created, it is not our job to continue to perpetuate them. To continue to bring up that scenario is to give excuses as to why some black men are willing to buy what they want (diamond earrings, cellphones, designer jeans) while begging for what they need (food bought with a Link card).

On the radio a few weeks back, a caller into WVON 1450-AM, disgusted with the lack of black businesses in our community, said we should put money together to open our own banks and fund our own businesses. I was applauding and clapping when I heard her say it. I was expecting the host to say something like, “Take some money over to the Southside Credit Union and get them to start a fund for people just like yourself to put money in to do just that.” Instead what I heard was another tired excuse. It was, “Well, that is what we used to do. Back in the 1950s, we had this, and we had that,” he said. Again excuses.

History is a blueprint to learn from as we look at today’s world. But for every problem, there is a solution. Some solutions come quickly. Other solutions take time. You have to experiment. You have to work on the problem until the solution comes. You don’t give up and say there isn’t a solution.

“I’m working on it,” is a continuing attempt to find a solution. Even “I’m not going to work on it” is an answer, whether we like it or not. But the “Ain’t nothing we can do about it” response is what irks me. Too often in our community, it seems as if the “I give up” role has overtaken the “Yes, we can” role.

So effective immediately, I want to ban excuses. In doing that, we can be more honest with ourselves and each other.

E-mail me (the sixth ‘E’): westside2day@yahoo.com