First, click the image above to watch the video.
I spend a lot of time around young people. My degree is in Marketing Education (secondary education). I spent a whole semester as a student teacher. That was a rewarding experience. (Of course the lazy person I am, I have like 4 pictures to show for it…). Anyways, I also substitute teach in the city as well. So there is a lot of time spent with young people. I’ve overstated the fact about my time with young people because these individuals just happen to be our future.
Whenever I sub, especially when there are Black female students, I get some rather interesting questions…which come no matter where I go. One of the first questions is, “How many kids do you have?” I’ll tell them none. “Are you married?” (Of course there’s no ring on my finger…but I guess that doesn’t connect with their developing minds…). I’ll tell them no. “Do you have a girlfriend?” I’ll tell them no. “Are you gay?” I’ll tell them no. “Why you talk so proper?”
Then the Black fellows have their interrogation period. “Do you smoke?” I’ll tell them no. “Do you drink?” I’ll tell them no. “Do you ball?” I’ll tell them no. “Do you club?” I’ll tell them no. “Do you…you know?” (Hinting at sexual innuendo.) Depending on how I feel, I may say, “That’s none of your business.” But most times, I’ll tell them no. “Why you dress like that?”
Baffled and perplexed, they then ask, what do you do for fun? I’ll tell them, I write music and books, I read Civil Rights Works, historical texts, and motivational texts. I’ll tell them that I’m in school working on a second degree, I enjoy listening to all kinds of music (like classical and country), and I love dreaming up marketing strategies for businesses. Then I am dubbed a nerd, whack, corny, college boy, Uncle Tom, Oreo, and everything else…but Black.
This is interesting because from day one of Blacks on the shore of Virginia (1619) through the Civil Rights Movement, being Black was always given such a bad rap. It wasn’t viewed as beautiful by the majority but frowned upon. Every negative thing that could be tacked on to being Black was done. With this, Blacks went the extra mile to fight the fruitless stereotypes that were placed on them. They became great in many fields and would not settle for these labels.
But today, our young people have opportunities so promising that they couldn’t have even been a dream in the most optimistic minds of the struggles of the past. But instead continuing to fight the negative stereotypes of what people think it means to be Black, they conform and proliferate. Many of the aforementioned interests (which by no means is an all-inclusive list) don’t bear much fruit, but they seize the interest of our young people. These things are what’s presented in their music, TV shows, movies, and magazines. And many Black individuals that attempt to build on the foundation of progress laid by our progenitors (be about more than social assimilation) is not considered Black.
None of these social pastimes finds cures to diseases, develops software, opens charter schools, earns degrees… But in the mind of many young people, these things aren’t what Black people do.
Why do you suppose that is? What does being Black mean to you?
Until the next time…