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Good Habits


Today is the anniversary of one of the biggest days in American history and probably THE biggest day in African-American history. African-Americans played a major role in electing the first black president of the United States, and proved that when united behind a common cause, we can make remarkable things happen.

The down side is that when we don’t unite, when we’re apathetic or wait around for others to do what we would should be doing, dismal things can and do happen.

Days, months, even years before the election, all eyes were on us – and we made each other proud. We mobilized. We galvanized. We even prophesied. We were beautiful. By the night of Election Day a year ago, we saw the fruits of our labor. We celebrated, we cried. And we celebrated some more.

Now, it’s time to go back to work. Elections are being held all over the country today, the first Tuesday of November. And, since I know you’re registered to vote already, you – not you; we – need to make sure we’re going to participate.

When you’re in the battle to lose weight, which most of us know a little something about, we’re most successful when we make a decision to change our habits and our lifestyles for the long-term. Nutritionists don’t like to use the word diet, because that implies a temporary eating program. A lot of times, we diet to achieve one specific goal – to get fine for the summer, to get extra fine for a wedding that an ex will be attending, to go to a class reunion to give the haters something to talk about, etc. The problem is, in most cases, once we make it to these appointed events, we’re done, and we go back to our old ways of doing things, usually with very negative results. The best, healthiest, most effective programs include examining the kinds of things were doing wrong and trying to make changes in the way we live.

If you registered to vote so you could take part in last year’s historic election, you did some good, but what you did will matter more and be more meaningful if you made a decision to continue along the right path. If you’ve changed your voting lifestyle or enhanced it, you will be at somebody’s polling place today. Because you realize – like my man, Ken Smuckler, said on the air this morning and as Roland Martin has been saying for weeks – the presidential election isn’t the only important election. Every election is important, and some of the ones that don’t sound as sexy are actually the ones that will have the most impact on our lives – especially black folks.

We love our president, but he is not able to spend much time worrying about our individual schools and neighborhoods. That’s a job for our local elected officials. There are plenty of those races today. Take more interest in your city and state government. I know you can do it. Many of us became experts on the electoral process when Barack Obama became a candidate. If we learned half as much about local, county and state elections, we would be so much better off.

I’m not preaching to you. When I say we, I mean we. I’ve got my hand up, too.

We have inherited the gift of being able to vote freely, and we should use that gift every chance we get. Atlanta, New Jersey, Virginia, Maine, Texas, California and any place I’ve missed, let’s get motivated, fired up and ready to go. This time, there probably won’t be long lines. You won’t have trouble parking. There will be no crowds to fight. You will just be able walk right up there, and do the right thing. You’ll be forming good habits that you can pass on to your family. And instead of talking about it, you’ll be making a difference, for real.