The Sankofa Initiative
Six Lessons from Street Food Pioneer Roy Choi
                                       
The word “Sankofa” can be translated to mean, “Go back to the past and bring forward that which is useful.” The bird is rendered as twisting its beak behind itself, in order to bring forth an egg from its back.
Connecting the past with the present allows us to be more effective agents in shaping our understanding of the forces that will have an impact on our collective future as citizens of the planet. We all share the responsibility for defining the terms by which we live. We honor those who have shown us the way and taught us the strategies for survival, endurance and growth.
The Sankofa Initiative is one of substance that will curve violence, raise education, and create industry and jobs.  Through this initiative we can control and shape the youth in the community and influence a larger number of youth by the sheer exemplary reflection displayed by the children. This is a measurable and sustainable concept that works for several other Nationalities around the country and globe.  If we are to undue the social construct we have been in for over 150 years.
The communities where children live can have a significant impact on where they go and what they do in life. Children in high-poverty communities often experience harmful levels of stress from exposure to crime, frequent moves and lack of access to resources like: good schools, medical care, safe outdoor spaces which are essential to healthy development. They are also more likely to drop out of school and struggle financially as adults. Here’s how we can improve our community:
1.    High-quality early child care and education are key to healthy development but out of reach for too many kids.
2.    Changes and innovative approaches to policies and practices in areas such as housing, economic and community development and financing can help revitalize disinvested communities.
3.    The success of children and their parents is intertwined. Programs promoting children health and educational needs must go hand in hand with services for their parents and caregivers, such as job training and financial coaching
4.    Low-income parents and other adult residents need convenient, ready access to training, education, financial counseling and other services that can help them get jobs to support their families and achieve financial stability.
5.    Well-established local leadership and a broad range of public and private partners help sustain neighborhood improvements over time.
6.    Transforming a neighborhood may involve rehabbing or building new housing on a scale that disrupts a community to ultimately establish safety and stability. Such projects should put people first, lessen the impact of relocation on residents and create a mixed-income community with affordable homes.
7.    For many families, housing costs take a significant chunk out of an already meager paycheck, and being forced to move again and again is a reality. Their communities need more housing options that remain affordable for the long term.
8.    Supplying jobs for residents and supporting development in surrounding disinvested neighborhoods.
9.    Resident involvement and leadership can mean the difference between short-lived and lasting change in a community. They should be actively involved in shaping their neighborhood’s future.
The Sankofa Initiative work focuses on strengthening families, building stronger communities and ensuring access to opportunity, because children need all three to succeed.
We must build a community or designate an area in our neighborhood that signify the outline for the initiative, which will the Northwest quadrant of MLK Blvd. across Myrtle Ave to Kings Rd to Canal St back to MLK. Blvd..
This area we will designate as Sankofa.  By renaming and claiming our area this gives us the physical grounds and location to begin building industries one block at a time.  In order to curve violence, raise education levels and create jobs, first we build an economic base to build every component hereafter from it.  By applying group economics in this area the dollar can begin to rotate 8 to 10 times verses the current zero times.
98% of the community goes outside the area for work. The majority of the community goes to a non-black owned grocery store, medical facility to purchase medicine, water etc.  Our community will begin to get into the ownership and control of resources that can generate wealth for the next generation and the entire community.  By keeping the dollar within this small region we will be the example of a true economic structure the city can follow.
With group economics in play we then can begin to exercise our political power.  It is only power when our votes are aggregated, like our efforts have been in “pockets” not unified. The Sankofa region can agree to say they will vote in BLOCKS, only for the candidate that agrees to give Sankofa the attention they desire. No matter what the candidate looks like.  This exercise can lead to its own independent party if done correctly and together which gives leverage for political power.  Ways we can accomplish group economics are:

1. Channeling African American resources to companies/organizations that support the Black community.  Bringing them to the table and having them invest in the idea itself financially.
2. Building strong African American communities that influence the economy, encouraging our residents to spend here/save here within our community whenever possible.
3. Driving financial support to African American businesses that support one another.  Develop a mass email/text for the community residence to keep them informed about what they have going on at their businesses (sales, promotions, classes, etc.).  Hence, building a better relationship with the community, residents and business owners; all while supporting the idea of keeping the economics within our community.
4. Helping to change un-just laws that adversely affect the African American community. The development of a board that will monitor candidate pre and post elections who will report back to the people within the community, is necessary.
5. Financially driven through the support of grants, private investors, and sponsorships.

With our grassroots organization ready to mobilize, a pooled economic base connected to a team of qualified researches who know how to strategize and win in this political atmosphere, We Can’t Lose.
The need for a Cultural Center will act as serval entities. The center will serve as a place for intellect development, book store, training, shelter, etc. When most children are raised out of single family homes sometimes the time isn’t there for the parent to cook, to help with homework, to guide the child as needed.
This Cultural Center will present all the attributes needed to build a strong human being. It will also be a neutral zone for all gang members (HANDS OFF POLICY).  The Cultural Center will be state of the art. Filled with proven programs that empower and shifts the dynamics of an individual. The community, most important the youth, will have access to a facility built to protect, serve and empower them. Through education, life skills, Manhood training, Conversations with our Daughters, Cultivating Entrepreneurs who will be more than just “productive citizens” etc. our youth/community residence will be allowed opportunity to define their own reality. Key components of the Cultural Center are as followed:
·         Fix the problems facing our juvenile justice and child welfare systems so that more children can remain safely in their communities and homes. Working along with the Juvenile Justice system and become a program that is optional to the detention of our youth.
·         Reforming the Juvenile Justice System-We are working to create a system that locks up fewer youth and relies more on proven, family-focused interventions that create opportunities for positive youth development.  Youth should remain at home and be supervised in the community rather than being separated from their families and placed into correctional institutions or other residential facilities when they do not pose a significant risk to public safety; hence the reason and purpose of the cultural center.
·         Improving the outcomes of youth who become involved in the juvenile justice system by eliminating the inappropriate use of secure confinement and out-of-home placement.
·         Transform disinvested neighborhoods into places with economic opportunities, quality education, safe housing and services for parents and children.  Within the center offer homeownership classes as well trade classes in the subject of home improvement.
·         Build the capacity of leaders to achieve better results for children and families and forge broad-based coalitions to advance child and family policies.  Offer political forms which will give community residence an opportunity to know what’s going on in their communities and get them more involved.
·         Help parents connect to work and become financially stable to better care for their children.  Development partnerships with specialist that will come in and do job trainings.   Focusing on interviewing skills, resume writing, dress for success and communication skills (written and verbal).
Why this area? It is one of the most economically and socially challenged areas in the city of Jacksonville.  It has what’s called “competitive advantages” from our people when it comes to spending.  Part of the area is the Historic Durkeeville, the other Grand Park both have great significance to the city of Jacksonville.

 

African Centered/Black Psychology is a dynamic manifestation of unifying African principles, values and traditions. It is the self-conscious “centering” of psychological analyses and applications in African realities, cultures, and epistemologies..