Survival of the fittest | Commentaries

Dr. E. Faye Williams

I am not perfect, nor do I claim to be. While I try to get as close as possible, I don’t rate my behavior as perfect or my judgment as infallible.

I accept the humanity and infallibility of others and hope that if I am judged by others, I will receive the same courtesy and grace. Occasionally my eyes were even closed to the obvious.

My focus has been on achieving social welfare and equity for those who have historically or systematically been disadvantaged by the imposition of barriers to their progress – typically women and people of skin color.

The need to eliminate the internal and external threats to our personal and collective security has always been a great personal goal and is illustrated by the incessant and growing list of people murdered by “law enforcement” agents.

I am moved by the fear of children affected by a never-ending cycle of hunger, or children who receive an education that is insufficient to generate future incomes that they or children they are trying to raise receive.

The dedicated and principled efforts required to address the myriad problems affecting our communities in the first place require a purposeful focus.

Situational survival

For generations the scale of the problems our communities have faced has been challenging for some and overwhelmingly difficult for most. Sometimes I compare our socio-economic difficulties to an adult reality game from Dodge Ball.

Like that ball that nearly throws your head off, the strife and troubles common to our communities seem to come out of nowhere with the aim of literally throwing you out of the game.

Instead of actually solving problems, many of us are trapped in situational survival. We move from one crisis to the next, only catching the periodic “pause” or pause that gives us enough energy to survive the next battle.

Many of us have so little time to think and are caught in the loop of addressing the next most critical threat to us. It is no wonder that many people of color have no real sense of urgency in the face of the growing threat to our ecology.

As someone who previously focused only on the more recognized, recurrent, and active threats to my community, I wasn’t the first among the ecologists.

Encouraged by Aboriginal philosophy, I accepted: “Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we cannot eat money.”

Write your ticket

If we cannot live without the risk of a natural disaster or a poisoned environment, what does it matter how long or under what circumstances we live?

This guidance from the original administrators of this land led to the realization that a prerequisite for the “true” social activist is to maintain a 360 degree awareness of the things necessary to ensure a long-term, positive quality of life.

Any common sense observer should understand that President Biden’s appointment of former US Representative Deb Haaland (the first Native American to be so appointed), US re-entry into the Paris Climate Accords, and emphasis on developing / refining renewable energy sources should indicate a growing economic opportunity.

The move to renewable energy should encourage those looking for high-growth job opportunities. Training or basic knowledge of solar or wind energy is increasingly being offered.

Individuals with scientific, technical, or mechanical skills may be able to write their own ticket to success.

Dr. E. Faye Williams is the National Chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. Contact her at