By Dr. Ray Shackelford
Research indicates that over 10% of the people in the United States, Florida, Orange County, and Apopka live in poverty. However, living in poverty is no excuse to repeat the cycle for decades to come. For an example, my family of seven lived in a 1000 square foot “MANSION” with one-third of our “MANSION” as a barbershop. When people had to use the “restroom”, they came through our fabulous living room/kitchen/family room//dining room/bedroom/game room combinations. Our bathroom didn’t have a shower or a bathtub. We had to take “wash-offs” in a bucket. From the inside our “MANSION”, we could look up at the roof to see the sun or moon, and down at the floors to see some unique creatures crawling on the ground. When most of us moved to the left, our “MANSION” moved to the left, and vice-versa for the right. This is why I don’t do the “electric slide” today! However, our “MANSION’ survived ALL major hurricanes that came our way.
People, including some relatives, picked at our “MANSION” and the clothes we wore to school and on a daily basis. However, our mother, mostly, a working-single parent, always encouraged us to be proud of who we were and what we had because it was A BLESSING from GOD. So, we moved forward with: (1) self-esteem and self- respect; and the support/encouragement of “GOOD PEOPLE”, like my grandmother, some aunts and uncles, some cousins, some police officers, teachers/professors, peers, some pastors, and Sunday School teachers.
Concerning self-esteem and self-respect, people need to believe in “ME, MYSELF, and I” as starters for a better quality of life. As a saying goes, “The first and most important person you must believe in is yourself”. “ME, MYSELF, and I” are not about being selfish, but about knowing the differences between right and wrong in a life-long learning environment. With “ME, MYSELF, and I”, people would not look for hand-outs but opportunities for a better quality of life such as being crime-free; obtaining a diploma/GED; going to college/trade school or military; being a tax payer, not a tax burden; or, simply finding a job. If millions of people can do one or a combination of these stated options, other people can do the same based on the statement’ “The best way to fail is not try to succeed”. Moreover, people should continue to DREAM with the understanding that FAITH, PRESERVANCE, and HARDWORK are essentials for DREAMS to become a REALITY.
“GOOD PEOPLE”, including some who live in poverty and make tremendous sacrifices, are willing to help other people if such people are willing to help themselves. For an example, our mother reached out to help two children whose mother had passed away and were determined to attend school. “GOOD PEOPLE” do not and should not reward people for bad behaviors unless such people are willing to change based on a statement of President Reagan, “TRUST, BUT VERIFY”. “GOOD PEOPLE” respect and encourage the “GOLDEN RULE”. “GOOD PEOPLE” understand that we, the people, stand on the shoulders of “GOOD PEOPLE” from the past, present, and will do so in the future. “GOOD PEOPLE” believe in “JUSTICE FOR ALL”. “GOOD PEOPLE” promote LOVE and PEACE, not hatred and war.
IN SUMMARY, “ME, MYSELF, and I” and the support/encouragement of “GOOD PEOPLE” have and will continue to uplift millions of people from poverty in a CARING, FAIR, and SAFE ENVIRONMENT. “ME, MYSELF, and I, and “GOOD PEOPLE” understand that a better quality of life cannot be achieved with excuses for problem-solving.
Ray A. Shackelford, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a retired educator who served as Chair/President of the School Advisory Council (SAC) at an elementary/middle/high school; member of the PTA/PTO/PTSA and IB Council; and as a college/university administrator/Associate Professor. He is a LIFE MEMBER of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association, Florida State University Alumni Association, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Dr. Shackelford is a concerned citizen who advocates for education; youth programs; crime prevention programs and services; fiscal integrity; and, the involvement of ALL communities and people in the economic development process.