Time out on negative and depressing news about African American young boys and girls seeming to be commonplace among most White media outlets. We as parents and members of the Black community can personally attest to positive and productive activities and achievements by a large segment of our children.
Contrary to negative stereotypes and subliminal messages generated by TV and movies that depict young Black boys and girls as inherently troubled and criminally inclined, we know that is far from the truth for many of our children. In fact, many African Americans are extremely proud of the hard work and focus many of their children are manifesting on meeting their goals and objectives.
It is no secret to African Americans that intellectually, our children do not play ‘second’ to any other group of children, although at times there are socio/economic barriers pending that may obstruct their success. This is not to say that there are not systemic, economic, social, and environmental factors disproportionally existing for a great many of our children that contribute to a sense of hopelessness and self-hate that sometimes contributes to negative and criminal behaviors. Many of our children buy into the negative stereotypes relentlessly inundating their minds while also being subjected to poor parenting skills, void of offering positive guidance and much needed supervision.
We can no longer blame and wait for others to fix or change the overshadowing doom and gloom mentality that persists and grows practically unchallenged in so many of our disadvantaged African American communities. In fact if the truth is the light, many of the problems for many African American troubled children should be directed toward many parents who help foster these negative images by presenting themselves as poor role models. If children are molded and shaped to be successful, we need to look at those who are the primary caretakers. It all starts at home. Before we point fingers at others about what is not being done, maybe many of us should look introspectively at ourselves and make amends. We know in many cases our children deserve better.
There are a number of African American parents from different social economical communities and classes who are putting their children first and reaping great benefits from their investment in their children. We are referring to African American students who get very little attention from the media for being respectful, academically inclined, and goal driven. We are talking about children who appreciate learning, can follow basic instructions, and are doing what is necessary to graduate and pursue secondary education, or become active as productive laborers or entrepreneurs.
We all can recall or attest to young African Americans who are making noteworthy progress in meeting their perspective goals, often being the first in their family to make such gains in many given areas. These young students are doing it, competing with the best, taking no hostages. They are knocking on the doors of all colleges and universities, refusing to be denied. Better yet, they are graduating, setting the bar high for all followers. Their dreams know no limit. They are soaring high, although at times without the accolades and acknowledgement from the media—a media often quick to broadcast anything negative and degrading about Black youth, but slow to invest equal time in reporting the greatness of African American youth progressing and achieving.
I, along with my friends and associates, can personally attest to the progress and achievements of our own children. Significant progress that must be attributed to the efforts of immediate family, church family, friends, and positive mentors (a community effort) in our children lives. But better yet, by putting our children first.
A personal shout out to my son, Steven during his third year in Dental school at Howard and my youngest son Matthew about to graduate from graduate school at Tuskegee, in ‘environmental plant and soil science.’ This summer, Steven spent a week in Haiti doing voluntary dental work and Matthew spent three weeks in Costa Rica doing research. (Yeah, I have bragging rights). I must also acknowledge my extended family of young men and ladies (Omari, David, Edwin, Jabari, Corey, Emmanuel, Ryan, Logan, Kenny, Thomas, Kendra, Tamera, Jennifer, and Tiffany, to name a few) who are setting the world on fire with their own personal achievements and accomplishments. May the force continue to guide them, and we know who the force is.