Almost 20 years into the 21st century

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

In just about 20 months, we will enter the year 2020. That means we will be one fifth of the way through the 21st century. The first 20 years of this century can truly be labeled the Age of Technological Advancement. The same people who feared going from 1999 to the year 2000 and all that Y2K brought, are more familiar with technology today than they were back then. 

Twenty years ago, most people didn't own a cellphone. If you did, you got just so many daytime minutes and if you were really lucky, you had a plan that gave you unlimited nights and weekends. The majority of the world didn't know what an email address was. And websites? People would look at you like you were crazy. Social media was a term that had most people stare at you cross-eyed and dumbfounded. Rare was the person who had an inkling of what it was. 

Now the average senior has a smartphone and knows how to use it. They can send texts, visit websites, and even have their own email accounts. And most 2-year-olds can maneuver their way around a cellphone with ease, proving that they were born to comprehend it.

As we approach 20 years into the 21st century, my question to black people is this: How will we move those forward those stuck in a mire that for far too many has become their comfort zone? What do I mean? Simply that too many of us have taken the victimization status, wrapped themselves in it, and are not as progressive about moving forward because it's more comfortable blaming others rather than doing what needs to get done. That fine line between self-help and self-pity has to be addressed.

Before I go on, let me give you the context on why I felt the need to write this. I deliver for a major retailer part-time. As I travel all over the Chicagoland area, I feel the lack of economic boom in a number of different racial and ethnic areas. But in the black areas, I see a lack of attention to home repairs that can no longer be justified with an "I don't know how to" excuse. It is even harder to comprehend when it involves neighborhoods where we have become residents in just the past 30 years or so. Like the suburbs of Dalton and Matteson. Or the Marquette Park neighborhood of Chicago. In each case, the deterioration of the homes has more to do with those occupying them than other forces. In today's age of videos on YouTube and Googling, which can teach someone how to do almost anything in regards to home repair, how the houses in those areas can look so worn down and in need of that much repair is concerning.

Just this weekend I watched as two children played in the front yard. For me, that's an immediate warning sign. With nothing better to do, the little girl, about 7 years old, repeatedly bent the poor tree sapling almost to the ground. She represented to me the kind of parents who send their children out to play with nothing to play with. Thus they begin to find things to destroy in their play! 

Another issue I am seeing that we black people need to self-address is the amount of litter that comes with our neighborhoods. For the life of me, I cannot understand how somebody can drop a bag full of garbage out on the street. Nothing is worse for me than going up on a front porch where I can see that the occupants have left evidence of everything they've eaten on that porch. That has more to do with no home training and a lack of pride in home ownership.

For years we were told that we had to do everything we could to make it easier to get people into houses. The premise was that simply obtaining a house would automatically bring about pride in where they live. After looking at these areas, I'm not buying it. Perhaps it's time for us to go back to making people put more money down before putting them in a house. Thus they can understand the investment they've made. As we progress further into this century, let's use the technology to know better and thus to do better!

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