Passing the torch

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Many older people’s dreams and hopes are being fulfilled by their children and younger relatives. This can be found more prevalent in people of color, especially African Americans, remembering a time when opportunities and doors where literally closed due to discrimination and segregation. Now we are able to see many of our children excelling in their perspective chosen careers, reaching unlimited heights. We as African Americans, have always known as a people we had the talent, ability and intellect to accomplish any goal or overcome any obstacle if given the opportunity.

Subliminal messages and even blatant attempts by an often racially driven media to minimize our worth as a people have failed to deter the optimism and drive of many of our youth to achieve or excel. Despite the negative image portrayed of many African American youth falling between the cracks due to institutionalized racism and discriminatory practices, many African Americans are making commendable, noteworthy gains in every field of endeavor. Unfortunately, many times their positive accomplishments and achievements are not acknowledged or recognized, unless by the Black media.

We must also publically acknowledge the growing number of young African Americans undeterred by attempts to portray them in a negative light. These are young African Americans aiming for the stars, refusing to entertain failure in realizing their goals or dreams. We are particularly referring to young African Americans demonstrating hard work and sacrifice to bring their dreams to fruition.

Let’s not be naïve but mindful that there are many doors of opportunity intentionally being regulated by oppressive forces seeking to stifle or negate young Blacks’ upward mobility. But we must look at these negative restraints and practices as temporary barriers to be torn down by a group of young African Americans transfixed on reaching their anointed destiny.

There are a plethora of factors contributing to the growing success of many of our African American children in going forward. Parents, grandparents, and close family members are constantly motivating and inspiring their young to be all they can be and to learn that no goal is unattainable. It is an understood mantra that you are expected to do better than your parents.

We must recognize that the Civil Rights Movement opened many doors allowing many Blacks opportunities catapulting them to middle or upper class status. It is these recipients that demand nothing less than the best from their children. You also find many parents living vicariously through their children literally finding joy and happiness through their accomplishments and achievements.

While often making the youth aware of the obstacles that may be awaiting them, their elders also interject that with planning, hard work, patience, and the wisdom to listen—success is inevitable. (Personally, I feel a spiritual relationship with God is a must). One must also acknowledge an early orientation and exposure to their true history, portraying their people’s greatness and contributions to the world. This helps negate any negative propaganda to degrade them as simply an ethnic group, stifling their self-esteem.

Positive reinforcement of who they really are makes it easier for so many of our Black youth not to identify with negative and degrading stereotypes fed to them by TV and other media. Thus, we have a growing group of young African Americans who refuse to let others define them and who are undeterred in overcoming many designated barriers. No doubt, they know they have a date with destiny that cannot be denied.

Although we have a long way to go, we must be instrumental in helping pull up our own youth who are often victimized by social, economic and educational disadvantages. Often, benefactors of successful children can attribute their children’s academic and professional success to their own influence. They do not wait on the system to fix the lack of equity in the educational system. Successful Blacks much reach back and help their brothers and sisters who are less fortunate.

Young African Amer-icans are making their mark as doctors, lawyers, educators, counselors, politicians, financial advisors, health care professionals, corporate executives, managers, supervisors, and entrepreneurs. When given the opportunities, many often excel beyond expectations.

During this month, seeing so many of my family and loved ones graduate from high schools and colleges only reaffirms my faith in young people and their ability to carry on the torch of progress and hope. They are adamant and persistent in going forward, in their quest to make a difference.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my oldest son, Dr. Steven A. Robinson, who just graduated from Howard School of Dentistry, May 12; and my youngest son, Matthew A. Robinson, who received his Masters from Tuskegee University in May of 2015. My two sons’ (my heroes) accomplishments and commitment to serving the community and materializing their dreams only cements for me that our youth will continue to fight for justice and equality while maintaining our legacy of greatness into the future.