I’m not sure if I’m sad or angry or the kind of sad that makes you angry because there is no solution in sight to the problem…which is both saddening and angering.
Today, I was talking to my students about bonding, mental bonding to be specific. I asked the question, “What kinds of things do you think it’s important to know about a man before you marry him?”
I always get about the same response whenever I ask this question. But there is one response that breaks my heart and makes me rage inside all at the same time. And I get this answer everytime I ask the question.
“I would wanna know how many kids he got.”
There it is, folks. The expectation of the majority of my Minority students. They don’t talk about a man who has spent his youth getting an education. They talk about a pimp with fronts, 22’s and only one…ok, maybe two kids.
My teaching days are nearing a close quickly. Over the last 5 years, I have dealt with all that Satan has to offer. I have talked with 15 year old mothers, girls with incurable STD’s, abuse, rape, and general hopelessness. But the reality that hurts me the most and makes me the most angry is facing…daily…the role-models that the African American community gives their youth.
The expectation set for young black men is one of sex, drugs and violence. They are constantly depicted in music and movies and then people wonder why our prisons are over-crowded with mostly black men. Nameless, faceless girls dance around the latest “fufty” video reinforcing the idea to black women that it’s the size of their butts that gives them power. Their stories aren’t told, but their bodies are exploited. HIV rates are rising fastest among African Americans. 70% of black children are born to single mothers! 70% of these young children will not know what it means to have a stable family life. And don’t get me started on how this affects poverty rates, healthcare and education in the black community.
Who are their role-models? I don’t know about you, but I have never walked down Rutledge Ave. and seen a pimp leaning up against a Bentley with a bottle of DP and a bunch of women dancing around him.
ATTENTION BLACK KIDS OF AMERICA. IT’S JUST AN IMAGE. IT’S NOT REAL.
I don’t know Usher or Chingy or any of the other big Hip-hop/rap stars personally. But if they really live the lives they portray in their videos, the result would be a guy with a bus pass, not a Bentley. Instead of a bottle of DP, he would have a bottle of antibiotics to take care of that burning sensation. Instead of girls dancing around him, there would be a couple girls sweatin’ him about child support.
The entertainment industry has become the pimp of the African American culture. It has sold their futures and made profit off their pain.
Maybe this is racist, I don’t know. But it brings me much more joy to see a successful black man or woman in our world. When I see a black man graduation from college, I am looking at a person who overcame more than I will ever have to overcome. I wonder who it was that showed him the way. Was he blessed to have grown up with his father? Did a coach or pastor take a special interest in him? Did the young, black woman who finished school without having a child choose to emulate a favorite teacher instead of some flash in the pan pop star?
There are so many factors that contribute to the problems that black people face in our country. I wish I had time and an interested audience to discuss the effects that the colonization of Africa had on the African family. But most of my students aren’t aware of how that effects them now.
In any event, There are so many amazing black people who are doing extrodinary things with their lives. Would someone please give them a microphone.