We stand at a pivotal time in history, where the “Power of Us”, the collective energy and wisdom of our community, can be the difference between a step back in time or a step into the future. We are confronted with a nation in denial, that has cast a willful blind eye to reality. 

The list of denials plaguing America is exhausting:

The denial that voting is a right given by the Constitution of the United States of America, despite Republican legislative attacks across the country.  

The denial that our educational system is stuck in a time warp, where school is dismissed two hours before most parents get off work. 

The denial that climate change exists, even as natural disasters threaten America in the form of hurricanes, wild fires, and biblical flooding.

The denial that we must compensate teachers adequately so they can nurture and grow our future workforce and leaders.

The denial that America was not built by white people; but by a multitude of races and ethnicities from our inventions to our slave labor.

The denial that crumbling infrastructure is hobbling America, whether it is roads and bridges or the need for nationwide internet access/broadband.

The denial that healthcare, like education, is a fundamental right and there should be access to blanket affordable healthcare for all.

The denial that COVID-19 vaccinations should be mandated the same way we mandate driver’s licenses and kids’ vaccinations to keep our nation protected.

We are a nation in denial. Why? Because self-centeredness has trumped the importance of the greater good.  

The question is: Do you want others to make the decisions that impact your life, your job, your health, your children, your money and your existence? 

Silence is unacceptable. Sitting on the sidelines claiming “that does not impact me” is unacceptable. 

Yes, I’m preaching because American history has shown that it can go either way. Just look at Reconstruction, the period immediately after the Civil War, when the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, known as the Civil War Amendments, were passed to ensure equality for recently emancipated slaves, only to be later dismantled by state laws and federal court decisions making voting difficult. 

Today, we are at a similar crossroads. There are those who would like to return to an unequal past; when there was no talk about the browning of America, which is rapidly taking place.  

Legislation has been used before to stop the empowerment of people of color. Today there are those who are trying those same techniques again. They have worked hard to appoint and install judges to local, state and federal benches, who they think will stymie future legislation. One of the only recourses is to ask Congress and President Joe Biden to protect the rights of the people and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.  

This is a time for courage, demonstrated by Texas’ State Democratic legislators who stepped up despite being labeled as underdogs and confronted with what many said was a daunting challenge to defeat the voter suppression bill on the floor of the Texas Legislature. They walked out demonstrating their collective power, or the “Power of Us.”   

The strength of the “Power of Us” has been utilized for centuries as an effective strategy for change from the American Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement. 

It’s time we recognize and exercise the “Power of Us,” taking action to participate in the political process. Be a part of the solution – whether that is joining a march or protest, contacting your legislators (state and national), donating to an organization in the fight, running for office or working to get someone you believe in elected.  

Sonny Messiah Jiles

There are two Americas in the United States and only one will be the victor. 

We are the change we are waiting on.

Sonny Messiah Jiles is CEO and Publisher of the Houston Defender Network.