what the hell are we gonna do with these kids?
hey all! it’s quite the pleasure to be a guest on blackatmichigan, a blog that has offered dumi and fellow scholars the opportunity to voice their much needed opinion regarding pertinent issues. i am no writer, but i do talk up a storm, so if this reads more like my diary than a professional piece, it’s probably because it is.
this title was meant to address the urban youth of today, specifically drawn from the panel of students that i (along with fellow peers) hosted last week. i pondered this very question when i saw that, of the hour long panel [comprised of seven students: 3 athletes, one frat member, one law school student, one politically active student, and one “general” student] approximately 57 1/2 minutes were dedicated to the athletes. my blood boiled at the thought that this group of 7th and 8th graders from detroit would be so concerned NOT with what law firm the 3L law student is looking into, but with what league the football players played for in middle school. understandably, the media has a tremendous monopoly on our babies, with such focus being on entertainment, specifically, music and sports. we all know the drawn out story of the inner-city dreams of quick cash and immediate gratification – hell – with our generation being called “generation me”, there’s no question that we could care less about the welfare of all people, as long as “i get mine”. but i can’t be told that there’s no stop to this cycle. there HAS to be a way to end the drug-selling, basketball-shooting, rhyme-spitting imagery that encapsulates the thoughts of the children from my hood.
see? that right there. my hood. i’m not saying that i came from the most shoot-em-up run-for-your-God-forsaken-lives type of place, but the fact remains that i am the only one from my neighborhood that left out of the neighborhood for college, that doesn’t have kids, that has never had, dealt, or been shot over drugs, and will be leaving. yes, i’m abandoning my neighborhood, of which i am fully aware of the problematic middle-class exodus – no need to remind me. don’t judge me too quickly though: i am not only headed to another inner-city to ‘do my part’ there (atlanta), but i’ll be back someday/somehow/someway to work with detroit. back to the point, the old adage states, “if i can do it, so can you.” what was the main factor that separated me from my peers? well, this little exam that i took in the second grade allowed me to be placed on a track that veered right of my neighbors. this gifted and talented program that i was accepted into put me on the path of academic success. this alone, however, would not be adequate enough to get me through. had my mother not specifically given me the encouragement by normalizing the pathway to higher education, my dreams may have ended in high school. fortunately, college was not a question in my home, so making sure that grades, extracurriculars, and personal pursuits were in-line with this ideology was not hard at all.
so, what am i suggesting? that we take an entire group of parents, force-feed them with statistics and pamphlets that suggest it is all their faults that their children are suffering? that we level the “playing field” for k-12 schools so that everyone has the opportunity to succeed? that we, as college students, do a better job in mentoring and show students alternate routes and definitions to what success truly is and how to acquire such paths? you’re darned skippy.
we, as a society, do have a right and responsibility to make sure that our community is making it. too often we hear “it’s not my problem” or “maybe later”, but the time is now and the urgency is extreme. a statistic reports that only 11% of the population of detroit has a bachelors degree. 11%. it blows my mind that i just received mine on saturday, yet the vast majority of my fellow residents cannot say the same. how can the children know which way to turn if their maps are only limited to their parents experiences? we must provide outlets and information that better equip our children for their potential. affirmative action is no longer cutting it. vouchers is not going to cut it. and testing our children for the “no child left behind” bull will not give them the know-how for the remedy to this systemic problem. neighbors must demand more and better use of funding for schools from the state, and we must encourage our children to explore various routes to economic stability, not acquisition. rightfully so, i am an optimist, and i do believe in the power of mentorship, communication, and community upliftment. do i have specific plans? not now – i don’t think God has given me the blueprint yet. but i do know that the middle class and those with the education can no longer sit around and wait for those without the resources to help their children. we must take a stand and get our hands dirty, because if we don’t, who the hell will?
…///tomorrow///what the hell are we gonna do with these kids part 2: invisible children and international woes
Filed under: General