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by Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.

(NNPA)—As we approach the Christmas season this year, it is important for African-Americans and others to stress the necessity for freedom, justice, equality, and peace in our communities across America and throughout the world. A “Black Christmas” should mean that this will also be the season for African-American empowerment and stronger financial sustainability.

The fact that the unemployment rate among African-Americans is still at an unprecedented high level should mean that the thousands of dollars that we are spending during these Christmas holidays should be spent more wisely. We are billion-dollar consumers of products and services. A “Black Christmas” for us should mean that we should save our money in proportion to what we spend and buy.  We should support and buy from African-American owned businesses. We should save our money in African-American owned financial institutions. We should be more prudent on how we use what money we do have.

I know that there will be some of us who will be embarrassed when they hear the theme of a “Black Christmas.” It is somewhat unfortunate that too many of us still get nervous when someone advocates an African-American agenda for Black Americans. The truth is that if we do not put a stated priority on more self-help and self-reliance for the advancement of the African-American community then no one else outside of our community will deem our plight as a matter of priority concern. Self-investment is a key to self-improvement.

Nearly 50 million strong, African-Americans in 2010 should be able to focus and target our spending, saving, investing, and giving-back to the less fortunate in our communities. A “Black Christmas” should be the season to focus on reducing and ending poverty, disease, and injustice that combine to create so much misery for our young and for our elderly. No greater joy can come than from uplifting ourselves to improve the quality of life for all African-Americans and for all people who yearn and cry out for a more productive way of life.

One of the greatest and most effective gifts is the gift of providing access to the highest quality education for our children. Black parents should be made aware of all the various options that they have to demand a better education for the youth in our communities. A “Black Christmas” would mean African-American parents utilizing a wide array of educational options for their children including tuition tax credits, effective innovations in traditional public schools, virtual schools, charter schools, Black independent schools, home schooling, public-private partnership schools, private school scholarships, mean-tested vouchers, and access to high quality supplementary educational services.

A “Black Christmas” gift also should be giving a Black Newspaper annual subscription to an African-American family. We should buy and give books written by African-American authors. We all should renew our membership in an organization or institution that serves the liberation, salvation, and empowerment goals and objectives of the African-American community.

Finally, a “Black Christmas” should be the time when we all pause to give thanks for family, friends, and colleagues. This is the season of Kwanza. It is a time to share the values and principles that will enable us to move forward in the future. We thank God for our struggle and for the progress that has been made. But, we also must pray that our spirit and sense of self-determination will be renewed and made stronger. Our children first and foremost should be given our love. Our youth in turn should always show the parents and elders in our community their respect and resolve to keep pushing to the higher level of progress. Yes, Christmas 2010 should and will be a “Black Christmas.”

(Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is senior advisor for the Black Alliance for Educational Options and president of Education Online Services Corporation,)

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