Monday, September 5, 2011

Up for conversation....

Today I posted something on Twitter that I don't usually. I tweet for fun not controversy. I have no time for drama in my life. However,  I had been watching the news and every other person arrested was of color. I became angered and tweeted the need to make changes in the #blackcommunity. I intended to tweet a few things on my mind but was challenged by a response. I was accused of isolating the problem by calling it a problem within the #blackcommunity. What I tweeted is very real. All children need our help, that's absolutely true. However, children within the #blackcommunity don't realize that they have positive role models who are working jobs that are attainable. In their eyes, only athletes and entertainers are successful. Nothing is further from the truth.

This blog is not to apologize but further explain what I was unable to in 140 characters. Bottom line... Our children in the U. S. have fallen far behind those in other countries academically. A number of children in impoverished areas enter the arena already behind on the first day of kindergarten. Therefore, they fall further behind if no one pays attention to their needs. Their illiteracy, drug use and teen parenting creates a problem in all of our communities. You may not share the same block with someone that goes out to rob a house or steal a car. Yet it doesn't mean it won't be your house that gets robbed or your car won't be taken. If we don't educate these children we will pay to house them in jails, pay for healthcare for their children, and many other things that come with them being uneducated and poor. It costs less to teach them basic life skills than to try and rehabilitate them later. Substance abuse is a problem as well. There is evidence daily how this affects all communities so there is no need for me to reiterate it. Like disease and poverty, drug addiction does not discriminate. It affects families across the world.

I focused my tweet on the #blackcommunity not to ignore other groups of people but to bring attention to what I am trying to understand. Children need to be encouraged to love and believe in themselves. We need mentors and neighbors to be positive role models in the #blackcommunity. It doesn't negate the fact that there are problems within other communities. It does, however, focus on a community that I can somewhat understand. I am not embarrassed to say that my beginnings were humble. Yet my parents managed to expose us to things and people that encouraged us all to do better and want more. I always say, "Poverty in the suburbs is different than poverty in the projects!" I grew up in the suburbs of Upstate NY where poverty was different. There was no criminal behavior, minimal drug use and no gang activity. My shade of poor was clearly different from those children in rural ares with inner-city ills. Poverty was there but the dark side of it wasn't which is why I said, "I understand somewhat," in reference to the community not the people. My blackness I love and understand totally.

Some, in my neighborhood, excelled more than others but we all managed to succeed within our own rights. Life has become hard to survive with a college degree and has become almost impossible to live with simply a high school diploma and no trade. However, teaching children the importance of education allows them to think outside of the box thus creating a legal means of employment. Even if a child doesn't have a traditional career their owning a diploma catapults them further than the one that doesn't. Without a diploma, McDonald's won't even hire you. It's simple as that.

We need to encourage our children to open a book. We need to encourage our children to become successful. We need to inform them that they are worthy and deserve a comfortable life. A lot of successful people were told they couldn't be "somebody," but they only needed one person to tell them different. That one person, or a few, drowned out the noise from those trying to deter them and they excelled. They should look up to entertainers who are positive not just flashing drugs, money and material things. They try and emulate rappers who've become successful despite their boxers showing and who have changed their zip codes, but not their negative behaviors. There's a teacher, coach, garbage man, mailman, laborer and custodial worker who has never gone to jail, sold drugs, or committed a crime that deserves some adoration. They are successful without the cars, money and drugs to reflect their achievements.

The bottom line is that we in the #blackcommunity need to change our focus. It's imperative that we encourage our children to acquire their education. Everyone can't go to college for one reason or another but a diploma or GED is within reach. The time is NOW to teach our young girls that they deserve more than they are receiving from their boyfriends. Once we teach them their value we increase their esteem with the hope of preventing teen pregnancy. They'll begin to understand that they deserve more than has been shown to them. So whether its the #blackcommunity, #whitecommunity or #hispaniccommunity (and all others!) we need to talk to our children. Not just the children you claim on your taxes but the ones you interact with. Make every interaction count! We either take care of them now or be forced to later when they are living in a small cell learning new ways to terrorize society. It's that simple... we need to make changes instead of turning our heads and passing the blame.