Black Boys Rock!
I was reading back over my old blog posts, and old stories in the Tuesday file that took me deep into my youtube subscriptions. This time it led me back to a video by internet controversy in the form of man Tommy Sotomayor. And while watching a few of his videos I found myself. 1 re-evaluating how actually controversial he is. 2 examining the idea he brought up in one of his earliest videos. The concept of black boys rock. Before I get deep into the subject matter. A subject which has actually caused me to scrap the other post I was planning to make for the site today(which is why this is late) I wanted to share a video of Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. He’s 15.
I do hope I’ll get a chance to interview him for the ID series, but after watching that I’m sure you can imagine where this is going. One of the things we as a society are often okay with is letting one group or another go by the wayside. You can argue that the perils of any ethnic group are addressed at the same time as disregarding those of another. That one gender is addressed more often than another. But I surmise that the constant need to place groups into a line constantly and for no reason other than neglect, stunts the growth of the most untapped resource in America. Young black men. Why do I call them a resource? I’m glad you asked. Let’s look at it.
Certainly child prodigies can exist in any race. And of course innovation from young minds can be found across both genders. But ask yourself when is the last time you saw an initiative to produce more young boys as entrepreneurs? Go ahead I’ll wait a bit.
Hard wasn’t it?
That’s kind of my point. There are some great groups out there to get young girls into STEM careers, and expose them to other opportunities that they were often looked over for because some people think MadMen is a TV show and other think its the constitution. But in accounting for that problem we’ve left young black boys to fend for themselves. And what does that do? That leaves most young black boys to emulate what they see around them as their path to success. And that perpetuates a lifestyle that is killing the community. For all the successes like Kingfish, we see far too often the failures.
Last year I talked in our podcast about how happy I was to see high school seniors posting about all the ivy league schools they received acceptance letters from. That moment, though, reminds me of the problem. It shouldn’t be a big enough story that the Huffington Post needs to cover it. I have a different goal in mind for society, and indeed for black men and boys than most. “Normal.”
Now normal sounds odd to want. It sounds pedestrian. And for those of you how have been exposed to my writing, my podcasting, and indeed just me in general, it doesn’t make sense on first glance. But when I say normal I don’t mean that I want us to become homogenized into Euro-American culture. Or become inextricably similar to our Euro-American, Latin-American, Asian-American, Aussie-American, or indeed African or Caribbean-American counterparts. No. What I mean is achievement no longer being newsworthy.
This goes back to my enjoyment of the film 42, and Jackie Robinson’s place in my pantheon of civil rights heroes. After Robinson, you had multiple black men crossing the line to leave the Negro leagues for the MLB. integration was a wave. The same with Latino players later on. And now to see a black player next to a Latino player on a roster is as common if not more common than 2 white players. That’s what I want. That’s what I strive for. That is the normal I seek. Where it isn’t news that 4 black men worked together on creating their own comic book company. Where it becomes no more than a facebook post that A black man was chosen to be a Rhodes Scholar(Shout out to Chris Elders)
The reason I bring up Black Boys Rock today is because, as is often said, a rising tide lifts all boats. Fixing the problem, by remembering the achievements of black boys, and bringing them into contact with more opportunities, is easy. And by fixing that, you fix a lot of other problems that are symptoms of a culture which tells young boys to not be like the bad examples but does nothing to help steer them into a positive direction. Now inevitably someone will say something about patriarchal culture, and what about women, and what not. Pay them no mind. Because they didn’t actually read this piece. They assumed I was bagging on women. And you knew better than them before this even started. So let’s talk about positive things. Let’s find ways to encourage the
So let’s talk about positive things. Let’s find ways to encourage the mathematicians, and poets, and business minded whiz kids among our everyday lives. When your nephew, cousin, son, brother, or anyone else you see talks about a creative or curious subject. Take time to expand his interest. They like video games? Ask them if they thought about making one. They like music? Ask them if they thought about making some. They seem to enjoy political talk? Get them on the campaign trail for something in their community. They like some other culture? Well take them there if you can, and if you can’t see what representation of that culture is nearby and take them there. They like to read? Well don’t assume something is too far ahead of them. We’ve talked before about my reading habits when I was young. Encourage them to do the same. Encourage them to think. Introduce them to cultural opportunities. Let them embrace more than the usual, until the unusual is just more usual. Why? Because in case you forgot. #BlackBoysRock!