By: Joe Hobot, ED.D.
President and CEO, American Indian OIC
2017 is now upon us, and it is so much more than just the beginning of another calendar year . ..
In fact, there is strong evidence to suggest that we have collectively entered into the next phase of a suddenly accelerating period of civic evolution. Whether welcomed or not, a major transition within our society is currently underway. In the wake of these changes lies the detritus of an aged, failing system that had become calcified by the tenets of colonialism, false precepts predicated on the fallacy of economic scarcity, and thoroughly polluted by the toxicity of abject racism. Previously marginalized communities have awoken, and now are stepping forward in a quest for personal and communal sovereignty. They now demand their rightful inheritance as American citizens, while remaining openly disdainful of all who would insist upon an adherence to an antiquated way of life that was not inclusive of them. Civic unrest and a willingness to further deconstruct the established order has become the order of the day.
In direct response, the political winds at both state and federal levels continue to shift dramatically, changing direction with each new election cycle, as they have done so yet again very recently. All the while, it appears that a deep uncertainty has begun to permeate the hearts and minds of large numbers of our public officials. Many of our office holders give the impression that, for all intents and purposes, they are paralyzed beyond the act of simplistic public posturing, merely capable of only reacting to forces that they perceive as being beyond their control. It is as though these folks have been stunned by recent events much like a duck smacked on its head, having abdicated their role as “leader” and instead choosing to wait in idle observation for the return of their capacities, as well as to see what exactly this new era will bring forward for them to contend with. Unfortunately the urgency of our people and their needs cannot afford the luxury of such “wait and see” mentalities. Now more than ever is the time for action, for leadership …
To date, the American Indian OIC has not experienced any such stultifying effects. Our organization remains in motion, hard at work, and steadfastly committed to our mission. Not only has the American Indian OIC managed to sustain our focus in the face of the political winds swirling about us, but we have managed to accelerate and strengthen our efforts along the way.
With the ever-growing need to attain relevant skills, sustainable employment, and living wages, the American Indian OIC once again finds itself operating within a unique space during a critical juncture during our society’s evolution. Our organization continues to equip the American Indian community, as well as members from other communities of color, with essential educational and training opportunities that has empowered our clients to liberate themselves from the shackles of poverty and to live as truly independent people. Our community demands no less of us, for so many of our people still live in a perpetual state of crisis to this day. We have no choice but to heed their call and to act, as each new day brings new clients through our front doors desperate to build better lives. This process as championed by the American Indian OIC has laid the foundation for the establishment of an authentic Indigenous Middle Class.
As such, the American Indian OIC will continue to push forward with our efforts to better educate our community – choosing innovative, culturally-contextualized educational methods over the traditional ideology of “one-size fits all” that is so pervasive in today’s classrooms, and that has failed our people. Beginning in 2017, the American Indian OIC will redouble our efforts towards serving our people, assisting more and more to earn high school diplomas, GEDs, and Post-Secondary Career Certificates.
In this new era, the AIOIC will continue to provide the sorely needed stabilization services of immediate employment placement, career counseling, and income development through our robust employment services programming. We will help even more who have been involved in the criminal justice system to reintegrate and become thriving community members capable of making positive contributions to our society. Additionally, we will continue empowering our people to develop through all stages of life by providing ongoing opportunities for those who have occupations to further develop their skill sets, allowing them to advance even farther up their chosen career ladder. On the whole, we will continue to better educate, train, and place our community members as we onboard them in ever increasing numbers into the Minnesota workforce of the 21st Century – beyond what an antiquated, calcified, state-wide structure has thus far failed to achieve.
In this light, and during the onset of this new era, the American Indian OIC will spearhead a coordinated and intensive campaign – engaging all of our key stakeholders and partners – to lift our American Indian community to heights previously unseen for generations. We will move greater numbers off of the seemingly perpetual dependency on government entitlement programs, and instead accelerate their transition into good jobs predicated on sound educational and employable skill development. We will lift more people up off of the “social safety net” and get them standing under their own economic power. Not only will this serve to heal our people, but it will also truly broaden our state’s tax base and fuel its economic engines. Our work will join with the energy generated by the movements occurring in the streets as our organization will continue to provide the solid underpinnings upon which our people can find firm footing and stability as they continue their historic march towards true liberation.
In this new era, the American Indian OIC will lead the way towards building up the Indigenous Middle Class here in the 21st Century. Now is the time to advance our work to new levels . . .
What Does an Indigenous Middle Class Look Like? (A New Era Is Now Here – Part II)