All opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and do not represent the opinion of my employer, church, family or any other individual or entity.

Social Justice Advocacy

INSPIRATION FOR YOUTH LEADERS IN NEW BOOK BY DR. ALFONSO WYATT

BOOK REVIEW: MADD Truth: Lasting Lessons for Students of Life by Dr. Alfonso Wyatt

 

Anyone who has worked in youth development for any significant period has had days when you want to “throw up your hands”, in victory, and also days when you want to “throw in the towel,” feeling as though you are defeated. On the days you are frustrated, it is essential to find some inspiration that reminds you to have a long-term perspective. Fortunately, there is a new resource to inspire any youth development advocate, whatever your current emotional level. It is inspiration given by Dr. Alfonso Wyatt in his recently published book: MADD Truth: Lasting Lessons for Students of Life

The book is broken down into five sections, each one filled with what Dr. Wyatt refers to as “wisdom statements,” powerful truths that are sure to resonate with anyone focused on their transformation or called to lead others towards change.

Dr. Wyatt has over 40 years old experience working with teens and young adults in any facility or institution that you can ponder. He is one of the rare speakers that can inspire a crowd of children eight years old and then move to the next room and inspire a group full of individuals who are eighty years old. Powerful truths are timeless and resonate with any generation.

He has written at least six books before this on subjects ranging from marriage to mentoring and more. As Clinton Lacey, Director, Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (Washington, DC) says in the Foreword, “Dr. Alfonso Wyatt, the “Godfather” of youth development, has once again put pen to paper in service of our nation’s most vulnerable youth, families, and communities.”

He is someone that I first met when we were fellow students at New York Theological Seminary and that I consider a great friend and mentor. If you have not experienced his wisdom via the spoken or written word, I highly recommend that you get your copy of MADD Truth.

Available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

 

Karim Camara is a Spiritual Teacher, Speaker and Writer. He currently serves as Pastor, Abundant Life Church, and CEO, Camara Strategies International, a personal and organizational leadership firm. www.KarimCamara.com


LET JUSTICE ROLL- INAUGURAL POST

On this past Sunday, February 26, Brooklyn, New York, the church that I pastor, Abundant Life Church hosted a special sermon and panel discussion on “A Spiritual Community of Resistance." It was part of the church’s Black History Month Celebration and featured keynote Speaker, Reverend Kirsten John Foy, the Northeast Regional Director of the National Action Network (Reverend Al Sharpton’s network), panelists Rev. Gil Monrose, Harold Williams, L. Joy Williams, David Grant, and New York Councilman Jumaane Williams.

The event was planned to be an inspiration for the church’s ministry of social justice advocacy. As a seven-year-old church, we feel strongly called to be engaged in social justice advocacy and youth development as part of our spiritual growth and our Christian calling. Hence, it is only fitting that I use this occasion to launch my new blog on Positive Youth Development and Social Justice Advocacy.

It is also an appropriate time to have the difficult conversation surrounding social justice during our country’s current climate of xenophobia, Islamophobia and in the midst of the threat that this country will abandon its moral obligation to care for the poor and protect civil liberties for all. It is a very necessary conversation that this blog is honored and anxious to join. I also hope to be a part of an expanded conversation that includes a discussion of city and state policies regarding healthcare systems, educational systems, housing systems, employment systems and all the other various systems that create barriers and cause disadvantages for poor children.

Let’s get to it: In this inaugural post, of a blog focusing on youth social justice advocacy, a natural and obvious question would be, "what is 'youth social justice'?". I offer that social justice, from a faith-perspective, is creating the world that welcomes and honors all of God's children and ensures systems that prioritize enhancing opportunities, not imposing barriers. Justice is a concern for peace and respect for all human beings without regard to ethnicity, economics or other determining factors.

Unfortunately, that is an ideal and not a reality. We have systems that have disproportionate negative impacts on people based on their race and their income. For example, we don't have equity in access to quality health care service, opportunities for employment, equal access to quality educational or equal treatment by the criminal justice system.

One of the definitions I appreciate the most is by Mae Elise Cannon (Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps for a Better World) who describes social justice as "...the way that material resources and social advantages are distributed and made accessible in society."

Conversation and blogging do not alone lead to meaningful change, but change also does not happen without meaningful conversations. Hence, engaging, passionate dialogue, hopefully, gives a reason for optimism. As Plato, noted, "Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as First it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens." The Biblical, prophetic voice of Amos reminds us to, “…let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never ending stream.

Karim Camara is a Motivational Speaker and Life Coach. He serves as Pastor of Abundant Life Church, Brooklyn, New York and CEO, Camara Strategies International. For his blog on individual and organizational development check out www.KarimCamara.com