Recognizing positive achievement

William T

William T. Robinson, Jr.

I was attending a Tennessee State University game in the Hole (game place at TSU) when they introduced the graduating seniors in the band. I thought that was very appropriate and fitting, acknowledging the hard work and perseverance they have shown in pursuing their goals. I also saw this as a great time for the TSU community to applaud these students for the numerous times they have entertained us and represented the university. When they had finished individually recognizing each student and giving their majors, I just knew that everyone in the audience would stand up and give a deafening round of applause. To me that was just a given.

But I was shocked when only a handful of those attending the game stood up and applauded the accomplishments of these students and awesome performers.

In honesty, I was shocked and disappointed by the lackluster response to what I felt to be an appropriate time to honor the future role models and future harbingers of hope and promise. I began to wonder if I was missing something. Why didn’t everyone feel the pride and respect that I had for these students? If they did, why couldn’t they show it physically?

I looked around and saw all these so call Big Blue fans wearing all their TSU paraphernalia and began to question their legitimacy. Why was it not a given that everyone would want to give these seniors a heartwarming memory they could take with them to remember for the rest of their lives, especially in later years, as they recall their TSU experience.

I remember a time when giving these students a thunderous applause wouldn’t have taken a second thought. What has happened to so many of the so-called Big Blue fans? Why do they find it so hard or irrelevant to show their appreciation for future TSU graduates?

I can only hope that this lack of appreciation doesn’t happen again. Please forgive me if you think I may be overreacting, but I come from a time when showing love for TSU and its students manifested an unapologetic frenzy among those in attendance. These graduating seniors weathered the storms during incumbent weather at times representing our beloved TSU.

I would like to personally apologize to those graduating band members whom I feel deserved so much more.

Congratulations! Find solace in the fans that stood up and applauded, because they sincerely understood and appreciated your unselfish work in entertaining the audiences at our football games. We need to recognize the completion of your academic goals as graduating seniors.

I am sure some of the fans in attendance may have been appreciative, but sometimes people need to physically show how they feel. Others cannot read your mind. Thanks to those who verbally expressed that they felt the same way I felt and were just as equally disappointed with the crowd in general.

One man expressed that he found it hard to understand why the crowd had no problem standing for the national anthem, which he felt shows no respect for the concerns of people of color; however, they could not adequately acknowledge and congratulate our children for four years of service by entertaining us and academically bettering themselves to become productive citizens this country can be proud of.

What have we come to as a people when we find it hard to show our African American students how proud we are of them—something the media neglects to do on a daily basis. If we don’t acknowledge and offer kudos to our children making positive contributions, who will? Let’s make a conscious effort not to trivialize the momentous positive accomplishments of our children, especially in public venues when possible. The media is often too quick to show us the shortcomings of some of our children, so when we have the opportunity to praise our own children for positive achievements—let it resound like rolling thunder.