Blacks, evolve or become obsolete? How to survive the next 400 years (#1)

Image courtesy of mghardie.wordpress.com

 

Pssst! Black People

Step closer to the monitor.

The conversation that we need to have is a private one.  One that I think we would all agree is long overdue.

First, let’s have a quick recount of our collective history so we can make sure that we are all on the same page…

Our ancestors were born in Africa and sold into slavery which birthed Jim Crow laws that legalized segregation which created the Civil Rights Movement which generated institutionalized disenfranchisement which birthed entitlement programs which no longer exist because of Oprah, Barack, Halle, and Michael Jordan have proven that they are no longer necessary.

Agreed?

Agreed.

Cool, then let’s move on.

The history of our people may upset you, the present state of our people may frustrate you, but for a second, let’s consider the future of our people and dare to ask ourselves some very tough questions, specifically whether we need to stay the course that we are on or whether it is time to drastically rethink  our modus operandi.  So many of the problems that plague people of color are the same issues that have plagued people of color for the past fifty years and I am personally doubtful that having the “same” spokespeople, give the “same” speech, at the “same” rally is the answer.

Before we go any further, I hope we can have a collective ‘come to Jesus moment’ and except that the Calvary isn’t coming to help us.  We were given approximately fifty years to get as many Blacks folks registered to vote, in college and access to a free third-world public education system and whether we like it or not, those days are rapidly coming to an end.

We can petition, we can march, we can boycott, we can riot, and we can shout in church from now until the heavens open up.  Yet, how much has been achieved, in recent times, through those actions?

As my own preacher says, “This ain’t a shouting sermon”, but just hear me out.  Understand, that I’m in no position to chastise anyone as I, too, often feel like a little colored girl just trying to find her way in a very tough world.  But that can’t keep us from having this conversation and if you are still with me, let’s begin…

Evolve or…

Charles Darwin, the preeminent figure on the evolution, had five theories on the adaptation of a species but for the purpose of this post, I think we should focus on two.

  1. Evolution as such. This theory states that the world is not constant or recently created nor perpetually cycling, but rather is steadily changing, and that organisms are transformed (by the world’s changing) over time.

Translation:  We must change as the world changes.

  1. Natural selection. According to this theory, evolutionary change comes about through the abundant production of genetic variation in every generation. The relatively few individuals, who survive, owing to a particularly well-adapted combination of inheritable characters, give rise to the next generation.

Translation:   Survival is a gift given only to the fittest.

There has been a paradigm shift in this country and whether we like it or not we must shift with it.  I don’t believe that now is the time to begrudgingly bury our feet deeper into the sinking sand in which we now stand because we feel entitled to be treated better (or in a more humane way than many of us are willing to treat ourselves).  The questions before us and the questions that we can no longer afford to ignore out of pride, a sense of entitlement, or anger are:

1. “How do we best adapt and survive in the America that we are currently in?”

2. “How do we prepare ourselves and our children for the America that we see coming to fruition?”

Just as a lion must follow its hunt and an elephant must follow the water, we must be willing to do the same…

New Rules:  Surviving in a post-civil rights, (un)post-racial America

Recent events have led me to consider the ever-growing list of new rules that must govern Blacks in 2013 and beyond.  These rules, though unspoken by most, are secretly forming in the back of many of our minds, changing the ways that we live, work, play, and allow ourselves to be educated.  Now is the time, I believe to move that discussion from our bedrooms and dinner tables to a more open arena.

Feel free to add, debate, agree, or disagree with any of what you read below.

 

New Rule #1:  Position our children to thrive (and not just survive).

Fact:  Only 54% of our children are graduating from high school.

Truth:  We, and not the educational system, are responsible for this failure as well as any future potential of changing the trajectory of our children.

Over the next thirty years, the world’s population will have grown by an additional 2 billion people, spurring a huge demand in the fields of infrastructure, healthcare, technology, transportation, and hospitality.  It is imperative for us to see this moment in time as an opportunity to change the tide and not allow ourselves to get swallowed in it.

Why are so many others able to compete as we struggle to stay afloat?  Perhaps it is because of their ability to see prospect while we continue, in the worst of times, to revert to licking our historical wounds instead of demanding more (and creating more opportunities) for our children?  We don’t have time to be angry at what the school system isn’t doing or what they should do, but are forced to do whatever WE can do to ensure the best education that we can for our children, even if we must piecemeal a comprehensive educational plan together ourselves.

Thirty years ago, in the depths of a depressed economic state, both China and India predicted the huge future demand in the IT industry and guess which fields their educational systems placed their priorities?  Math and Science.  Let’s begin to think as strategically about our children’s futures as the rest of the world already is.

We are all aware that public schools underperform and that prisons are built contingent on 3rd grade standardized test scores.  But are we equally aware that industries can build an entire workforce pipeline from the competency of students at that same grade level?   For example, to get into a good engineering program, you must excel in high school.  To get into a good high school you must excel in elementary school.   Your likelihood to excel in elementary school can be projected as early as….(you guessed it)… 3rd grade.

My point is that we must become proactive and not reactive in regards to our children’s education.

We cannot afford to wait until there is a problem to become aware of how our child is preforming in school.   We also cannot afford until it’s time to find a high school to become concerned with our kids’ academics.  Most of all, we cannot subscribe our children, no matter what our socioeconomic level is, to being left to their own devices to figure out how to become a responsible adult, at the age of 18 when they are no longer our legal responsibility, when we have not given them the tools nor equipped them to do so.

We have ALL failed our children and whether we continue to do so rely on decisions that we make today.

If we can mentor, we should mentor.  If we can initiate an internship program (or secure an internship spot) between our jobs and a neighborhood school then we must.  If we can show up for a career day, then we must show up.   Whatever it is that each of us can do to curb the numbers of children who believe that school isn’t a time investment worth making, we must do it.

On raising the next LeBron, RG3, Kanye West, or Two Chains…

Parents, shouldn’t we dare to have more statistically sound aspirations and bigger dreams for our children?  Last time I checked, in any given year, only sixty people in the world are drafted into the NBA, 214 people are drafted into the NFL, and there are only five rappers on the Forbes list this year.  How wonderful would it be if we dared to set the bar a little higher?  Instead of prepping our children to battle for short-term millions like crabs in a barrel, why not prepare them for one of the 200,000 technology jobs that are currently open in this country that boast six figure salaries?

Instead of teaching our children that the only way to become rich is by way of their athleticism or rhythmic ability,  how different might our community be if we encourage them with equal fervor that they can be the owners of NBA teams, franchises and enterprises if they are just as determined and focused?

 

Friday:  New Rule #2, Why It's Important to Teach our Children the Entire Truth about White People

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    Kay S

    Kay Smith is a Chicago-based freelance writer and blogger who focuses on race, politics and urban culture. Having worked on public policy at the state, regional, city and community level, her opinions have been featured in the Chicago SunTimes and a host of news websites (under very mysterious sounding pseudonyms). Follow her on Twitter @kaywillsmith or contact her at kaywillsmith@gmail.com.

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