ccording to Dictionary.com, the so-called word that most resonated as the theme for the Year 2016 is xenophobia, which is defined as intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries. According to the Dictionary.com website, user interest in this overarching theme rose to the level of our cultural discourse like no other word.
However, in an email sent earlier this year one of our Endeleo board members used a word in response to a positive development that really resonated in our office. In his sign off he wrote the word, Onward. It is used as both an adverb and adjective meaning in a continuing forward direction and going further rather than coming to an end or halt.
Ironically, just last week another email landed in our inbox from the editor of CFED. The Center for Economic Development is a Washington, D.C. based, multifaceted organization working at the local, state and federal level to create economic opportunities that alleviate poverty. The sender wrote an inspiring note about a colleague that ends all of her emails with the very same word: Onward. Even the politically outspoken CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, for whom there is much speculation he might run for president in 2020 penned a book entitled, you guessed it, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life without Losing Its Soul. Hmm…
We live in, arguably, the most segregated city in the world and as African-Americans have experienced domestic forms of xenophobia for an entire century. The changing of the guard in Washington is nothing compared to the headwinds faced on the south and west sides of Chicago. That is largely why spearheading restoration of the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library is much more than a physical improvement. It has fiscal implications because there is empirical evidence that indicates investment in public libraries leads to economic empowerment. No one in this city is truly interested in empowering us.
Lest we forget, our neighborhoods suffered mightily well before the November election. But Pastor Frank Thomas, the gifted, homegrown brother from the southside, recently preached these words from the pulpit at Trinity United Church of Christ : “Suffering produces wisdom and when you hurt worst is when you learn the most.” Remember that. Onward!