In 1997 a little movie about a big ship that sank grossed several billion dollars in worldwide box office receipts. It told the story of Jack and Rose, members of two different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage.

At the end of the film, Old Rose recalled that hundreds of people drowned the night the Titanic went down, but only one of the twenty lifeboats in the water had a captain courageous enough to navigate through the bodies and look for survivors.

Titanic tragedies occur in our underserved communities every day. Many people find themselves drowning in poverty, drugs, alcoholism, abusive relationships, teen pregnancy, and violent crime. Yet how many Americans spent $8 plus to watch Titanic in a theater, but would never consider boarding the lifeboat that goes back? Indeed, the majority of Americans choose at best to ignore, and at worst to fear or disdain inner-city areas and their residents.

When drop-out rates soar and standardized test results plummet, when crime rates thrive and broken homes abound, ambitions shatter and hope dissolves. The result: a generation of kids having kids, mistreating kids, and sometimes killing kids. That generation will either drown or survive by learning to excel in the face of adversity.

We need to fill our lifeboats with compassion, hope and justice; return and search for survivors! Each of us are the captain of our own ship. Insist that your lifeboat not abandon the underserved like the nineteen who abandoned Titanic and its victims.

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