Even during this dismal year when the Covid-19 pandemic takes us by surprise and dominates the media, we cannot dismiss the accomplishments and achievement of all our youth graduating from high schools, colleges and other institutions of higher learning. They are to be saluted and praised for their hard work and perseverance in reaching their goals and ascribing to be productive and successful contributors to our society.
However, a special extra shout-out and recognition is warranted to young African American graduates navigating in a system that often detail their failures or shortcomings, consciously unbeknown to so many, fueled by systemic racism that is found in every aspect of their lives- politically, socially or economically. But regardless of the numerous constructs devised historically to keep African Americans from achieving academically and economically, one must understand that it is only natural for cream to rise to the top. Poverty, negative stereotypes, lack of adequate resources were not enough to keep some motivated and determined young blacks from reaching their desired goals.
There’re not enough words to thank the caretakers, parents, especially single mothers or fathers, who sacrificed, supported, and prayed that God would help get their child through high school or college. And we must not forget the mentors, coaches, and extended Village that never gave up on our children and who count all our children, victories, accomplishments and success as an investment in our future. Many of these black graduates come from families of educated parents or parent who adamantly promoted or stressed education and were an example for their child. Some of these children represent the first generation of having a college graduate in their family.
We must realize and understand that our black children have never lacked the skills and talents necessary to succeed given the opportunity, but there are so many social, economic and political restraints put forth to deter their success. But regardless of historically being denied access to white institutions of learning, denied adequate resources for predominately black schools, and legislation that made it illegal for blacks to write or read in some southern states –blacks have always possessed the zeal to learn and progress although for so long they had to feign or suppress it to avoid the wrath of their oppressors. But make no mistake, we are making up from a historic deficit of denied opportunities.
This year’s black graduates only solidify that the years of white supremacy to present blacks as inferior, trivialize our worth, and dehumanizing us is falling upon death ears. In fact, it is not the realization that so many of our black children are graduating, but are graduating with honors and as salutatorian or valedictorians at their perspective institutions. In fact, we have numerous athletes that have proven to be as proficient in the classroom as in their perspective field of sports graduating with academic honors.
It is unfortunate that we will not be able to celebrate these graduates in public settings with crowds applauding as they observed them walking across a stage or with open celebrations with many people in a close vicinity. However, there is no shortage of black families coming up with ways to untraditionally to celebrate and honor their worthy and ecstatic graduates. No one is prouder than the graduates themselves who are on a continuing designated path with meeting their future goals whether it be with high school graduates going to college or college graduates embarking upon their selected areas of expertise. When talking to the graduates, you’ll find many want to be entrepreneurs or are seeking higher education as a professional in areas such as education, mental health, engineering, business, or technology to name a few. They seem so well focused that nothing is going to deter their determination to soar.
In many black families you find many young females gravitating toward engineering, education, the medical field, or business with the goal of becoming an entrepreneur. A testament for such high expectations is that many of these young ladies have never seen a shortage of strong, highly intelligent, caring, and dedicated mothers, grandmothers, and aunts in their immediate families. The same can be said about young men, groomed, motivated and inspired by the positive black male role models present in their lives. Sometimes as adults, we are the best examples for aiding in molding our children’s dreams.
In ending, kudos and congratulations to the black graduates breaking myths, and daring to dream and soar. I would be remiss in not acknowledging those young blacks already in their chosen professions daily taking excellence to another level. Their numerous achievements and accomplishments are assurance that the prayers of the slaves are being answered.