Michelle Obama's Becoming misleads today's teens about success

The worst piece of advice those of us in our 40s or older can tell teenagers is this: “If I did it, you can do it.” Who knows? In the past 23 years of teaching in the Chicago Public Schools, maybe I said it to my students. But success requires more than ambition and hard work.

Here’s the problem with that advice: success is complex. Success is a combination of ambition, hard work, opportunity, context, and timing. Sometimes, people who lack the first few components luck out by being at the right place at the right time.

I’m not negating Michelle Obama's struggles.

But when we give young people these stories of hope, especially those where every piece falls into place because of effort and result and luck, we must raise a consciousness of the systemic elements that contribute to success stories like hers and her brother’s.

Read the rest of my perspective on Latino Rebels.

 

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