Filling a need?
By Pastor Rasheed Z. Baaith
“Give, and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 3:10 KJV)
In an era where self-aggrandizement is the norm and greed has been declared a virtue, people like Kent Edwards are a welcome exception.
For those who do not know, Kent Edwards is the owner and proprietor of the Headquarters Barber Shop in Deerfield Beach. It is a place I’m told, where people gather not just for good grooming but for excellent company and pleasant conversation. But even more, it is also the place where for the last two years, Kent Edwards has held and sponsored at his own expense an annual Back to School event for the children in his community.
There is food, book bags, school sup-plies, half price and free haircuts and as beneficial as all that is, that may not be the best part of what Kent Edwards is doing. The best part may be that a Black man with his own business saw a need in his community, determined he could meet that need, and did. Pro-fits were not a motive, giving back was.
Our children are the most neglected segment in our communities. They are mis-educated, abused, forgotten and blamed for wrongs in their life they have never had control over. And at present the number of Black children living in poverty is growing. It is projected this country is about to have its highest poverty rate since 1965. We already know that if things are bad economically in America, they are much worse in Black America. No child can be blamed for a recession although they suffer more than others because of one.
Poverty means there is not enough food to eat or clothes to wear or the housing is substandard. Substandard means faulty electrical wiring, roaches, rats, unsecured doors, broken appliances and an unsafe environment inside and out. Poverty is not like having a cold, it never gets better.
The attendant issues such as out of wedlock births (I’ve never understood how a child could be called “illegitimate”), poorer health care for children, under achieving in school, the high rate of unemployment of parents, crime victimization and incarceration are destroying the future of our children. Add to that toxic mix the negative impact of hip hop music and the emulation done by young Black males of 50 Cents, Chris Brown, et al and things have never looked worse. Our churches are not the sanctuary they once were, many of them don’t teach a firm moral guideline anymore.
Despite all of this, we don’t hear any concerns about this growing poverty and its impact being voiced by leadership in the White House or from the State House. Either our leadership doesn’t care or they don’t consider the poor a part of their constituency. In either case, it seems that Kent Edwards and the few who think like him are our solution.
Like Mr. Edwards, we all need to understand that if our children are to be rescued, it is up to us to rescue them. Like him, we need to understand that whatever resources we have, no matter how small they may seem to be, can do a lot more than we think they can.
Finally there is this: it may well be that Mr. Edwards is doing more than helping children and mothers in need, it may well be he is helping the Black community to ask itself an uncomfortable question. If one man can do something so significant for children and families, what could the total community do if it just would?