We will soon be going into our 13th year following Y2K. There are now children old enough to read this column that don’t have a clue as to what that abbreviation stood for. As I look back since the start of this new millennium, it is amazing the leaps and bounds that technology has made.
How many of you were like myself and didn’t have a cellphone 12 years ago, or were one of the last ones to get a cellphone and now you don’t know how you lived without it? Why, the newest cellphones are now so small that they are almost at the level of the wrist phone that Dick Tracy used in the comic strips.
When I think back to when I was a child, it seemed so improbable that someone could have a device so small. Now, 50 years later, what was once fantasy is now a reality.
Can you believe that Facebook is only eight years old? I have accumulated more than 5,000 friends and can’t accept any more friendships. I never got that much into MySpace, but in retrospect it came and went like Beta movie tapes.
And although VHS tapes won out as the more popular format, those tapes have now lost their luster to DVDs. The future of DVDs isn’t certain since you can download movies directly to your electronic devices. It will take a while, but I predict that DVDs will soon be like those Beta and VHS tapes: obsolete.
I used the previous examples to highlight that the world is moving forward whether or not the black community is on board for that movement. Every day when I come home from work, taking North Avenue, I reflect on how that street changes dramatically once I cross into Chicago proper.
Coming east starting at Thatcher Road in River Forest, North Avenue is vibrant. There are restaurants with sidewalk seating in Elmwood Park. Even the Chicago section from Harlem east to until around Narragansett is energetic.
As I make my way towards Austin Avenue, I see the dimming vibrancy of the street. Then once I cross into Chicago and continue heading east of Austin, the contrast is as stark as night and day. Even the Oak Park side of the street has less-than-stellar businesses.
In Austin proper, our residential blocks are holding on. But the main business district on North Avenue in Austin is dismal. They are still too many store front churches littering North Avenue that don’t add anything to the community. Those churches all have a tag line to proclaim what they are about, yet the poverty and despair that surrounds the closed, gated and locked doors says more about our religious community than any sign could ever profess.
Add in the corner stores that are havens to attract young people who have nothing to do but stand around hanging out as if that is an occupation, well it’s not a wonder that everyone else is progressing while we have stagnated.
We are at a pivotal point where we as a community are long overdue in coming together to get reputable and desirable businesses to open their doors.
Our newly freed ancestors were promised 40 acres and a mule, and it never came to pass. I can barely remember the last time I heard anyone talk about reparations. As I watched the presidential debates, the inner city wasn’t on either candidate’s agenda.
The world will continue to move on and if we don’t try to join in, we will be permanently disenfranchised.