So, I am getting old. And, the scary thing is that I am not afraid of the process. I am enjoying it. I like my socks long. I like referring to people as young man or young lady. And, I really do need for people to stop throwing their balls in my yard. OK. The last one is not true. But, it seemed to fit.
Last week I was sharing dinner with a wonderful family that we have recently become acquainted with. And, in the midst of enjoying the sushi, a brilliant conversation was born. The young people were intellectually astute, thoughtful, and passionate about their points. And, because I am old, I sat back and just listened. I did not offer much to the conversation. I didn't try to pound my point across. I didn't try to prove one point right or wrong. I just listened. And, then I started to think.
Last night, I went to see a play with my church family. And, in the midst of doing all the things that old people do at 3 hour musical presentations ( I'm sleepy. I need to go to the restroom. Ma'am, please ask your child to get off of my neck.) I heard something. And, I let that something soak into my consciousness until it found it's way to, and mixed itself with the ruminations that were being birthed from last week's conversation. And, now I have something I need to say that is going to upset some and prove to others that I am getting old.
If you are the parent of an underrepresented, impoverished, or just minority child, you cannot complain about the system, man, society, or racism that is trying to keep you separated from the life you want to enjoy until you start demanding certain things from yourself and your children.
Friends, we must demand that our children get educated. If your child is poor, you must make that child value education. If your child is a member of a minority group of any kind, you MUST force your child to be educated. You have to teach your child to recite her ABCs before you teach her to twerk. Stop criticizing children for talking "white" just because their subjects and verbs agree. There is nothing wrong with our children being SMART. Here is the truth. Your child is not going to be a professional athlete. Make him learn how to read and navigate the educational system. The chances of your child becoming a finance broker are greater than him becoming a country western singer, rapper, or opera singer. And, most finance brokers make more money than any of those people.
Here is the truth. This is not me saying every child has to go to college. But, even if your child does not want to go to college, that is not an excuse for them to not do well in school. MAKE them graduate from high school. That is the best way to get them into UTI, where they can learn to be a mechanic and make almost 6 figures repairing cars. That will get them into welding school. Welders make $50 an hour. That will get them to plumbing school. Have you paid a plumber, lately? College is not for all of us. But, all of us have a passion, and can be sustained by that passion. Just stop allowing our children to be uneducated.
Here is the truth. There are evil, hate-filled, pilgarlics who will still work to keep your child from being successful. An education,however, makes that harder for them to do that. You are correct. A education will not do away with the institutionalized racism; the existence of which many ignorant people deny. But, it will give our children a better chance of navigating those same racially slanted institutions. Just give our children a chance. Force them to be educated. Make education our children's new cultural collateral. You don't have to know how to read to force teachers to educate our children. You don't have to know how to do the work to demand that your children do their own homework.
Here is the truth. I am old. I have seen too many of my children miss out on life because they were uneducated, under-educated, or mis-educated. Shoes will not make our children successful. Clothes cannot cover or conceal callowness. We cannot do away with racism. But, we do have the power to make the pallet upon which people would seek to paint racism less palatable.
I love you. You don't have to like me. I just want to force you to think.