Sometimes you hear a story that gives you hope for the future; A story that reminds you that what you are dreaming of is indeed achievable. The story that has done this for me is that of my dude Joshua Smith, a 9-year old bratha from Detroit.
Today Detroit sits on top of a $200 million dollar budget deficit and a $13.2 billion long-term structural debt. If you don’t know what that means, essentially, whenever Jesus comes back, they’ll still be in debt at this rate. This is a city in which, as of today, the reported homicide count of 212 has already topped last year’s total of 211. On a crime index of 1 to 100, with 100 being the safest, the city of Detroit stands at a 1. As you’ve heard numerous times on TV, in film, and the butt-end of many a stand-up joke, the city of Detroit is harboring on tough times. However, the stories you don’t hear about are those inspiring ones that show the beauty of the people in the city; stories like that of Joshua Smith.
Young Joshua heard all of the statistics about the home that he loves, saw that a change was needed, and took matters into his own hands. After suggesting to and gaining encouragement from his mother, Joshua began selling organic lemonade, fruit punch, water, and popcorn in three sizes. Soon he started to gain the attention of his fellow Detroit residents, both inside and outside of his Russell Woods neighborhood on the city’s west-side. By the end of the week, Friday, Joshua raised an amazing $3,392.77.
“Only 3 thousand?” some foolish mind might ask, however I’d like to remind you that this is a 9-year-old boy selling soft-drinks and popcorn outside of his house. Hearing this made me ask myself how much my 22-year-old self had raised for my city (INGLEWOOD!!!) that’s also going through tough financial times. It reminded me of the teachings of Malcolm X who urged us to keep our dollars in the community to foster independent growth; To prevent us from leaning on the shoulders of a government that got us in this economic crisis in the first place. Taking our economic future into our own hands, as Joshua Smith has done at the tender age of 9, is key. What if we as a people made the commitment to NOT go to Wal-Mart for that 1,000 liter bottle of soda for $1? What if we instead all bought from the Joshua Smiths and Mom-n’-Pops around the corner? Estimated at over $900 Billion, Black buying power is a force to be reckoned with, yet we continue to relinquish it to the Wal-Marts, Targets, K-Marts, and etc; companies whose only agenda is to take the money from the community as it crumbles under the empty economic foundation it’s left behind. The rich get richer as the poor continue to become “vanity slaves,” as coined by the future of rap music, Kendrick Lamar. President Obama’s new White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans has great promise, however we can’t solely depend on that to save our communities’ educational systems. Rather than waiting for someone to give it to us, we must make the commitment to being the change we wish to see in the world, as Gandhi once stated.
SEE ALSO: I Just Want My Culture Back
Joshua Smith set a $1000 goal for himself and more than tripled that in less than a week. His inspirational story has earned him a guaranteed a $2000 scholarship from the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation, as long as he graduates high school with a grade point average of at least 2.5 (the first time they’ve awarded a scholarship to a non-high school senior).
“Special consideration for a scholarship was given to Joshua because, at such a young age, he is an enterprising civic-minded young man who shares Mrs. Parks’ spirit of service and commitment to building a brighter future in his community,” said foundation president Delora Hall Tyler.
Further, thanks to Joshua’s great American effort, a caravan of about a dozen volunteers and eight tractors from the Detroit Mower Gang, a volunteer group, came into Joshua’s neighborhood Friday and mowed the two parks closest to his home. To top that all off, three members of the University of Michigan basketball team checked out Joshua’s stand and gave him and a friend some U-Michigan gear: T-shirts signed by the team and hats. They also gave $20 to buy some juice. “I was so impressed right after I read the story,” said UM junior Jordan Morgan. “I just felt like, if more people had a mind-set like Joshua, this world would be a better place.”
To all of this Joshua says, “I’m just getting a lot of support, and that makes me feel good.”
Joshua Smith is truly an inspiration to us all and I’m certain will continue to do great things for our communities. We need to set his services to the city of Detroit as a standard for the way respond to hard-times in all of our hometowns. Nine years old, doing more for the community in one week than many will do in their lifetimes… excuse me while I salute this young bratha.