There was a time when African-Americans really did work hard (most of us still do) and they (we) worked together to make sure we received our fair chance in this world. People protested, lost jobs, homes, and lives to ensure that the young kids coming up could have a better opportunity than they had and it worked. Businesses were forced to change hiring practices. Ivy League schools had to really look at the applicant and the grades of those not of the Anglo Saxon persuasion and it was good. African-Americans were actually starting to be viewed for their character and what they have accomplished and not by the color of their skin and life for our community started to prosper.
I know I benefited from my grandfather’s and mother’s efforts to fight discrimination in this world. A world that, for the most part, hated African-Americans with a vengeance and did whatever it could to keep us in “our” place. I was able to attend good public schools and when it was time for me to get a job, I was able to get a fair chance when I put in my application. I graduated from San Francisco State University: the birth place of Black Studies in higher education in the United States. Upon graduation, I was hired by a Fortune 500 company and was promoted through the ranks not just because of Affirmative Action but also because I knew what I wanted in life and I knew how to make that happen. This is the basis of this article of how I used what was given to me by my ancestors—my Civil Rights to be treated fairly and equal in schools and in the job market and on the job, and how this generation coming up has lost the rights of Affirmative Actions and do not realize what they have done to themselves and generations to come.
When I was back home recently, I visited my aunt and her grandson (my first cousin’s child) along with her foster daughter and her cousin. We were talking and catching up on things when I asked my second cousin why he was wearing his pants like he was—his pants were below his butt and he had on two pairs of gym shorts that you could see. I explained to him how a mom decided that this was a “butt loaf” because it looks as if these boys have a loaf of bread hanging out of their pants. His grandmother (my aunt) went into a tirade about how she wishes someone would tell her he could not have a job because of the way he was dressed—she would sue them for discrimination. When she said this, I had to ask, why not? Businesses have dress codes for a reason and why should these kids who dress like this get a pass to dress any type of way they wish just because of the right to be who we wish to be. I asked him what he wanted to do and of course, he said he wanted to be a “C-Rapper” and I asked why and the obvious answer was because they get paid. This started a whole new conversation that I knew would end with this kid still not aware of what he was going to do with life as long as he believed that being a “C-Rapper” was the end all be all of life.
I asked him how could he want to be apart of an industry that now promotes drug dealing, violence, and the degradation of women. Lil’ Wayne a “C-Rapper” has a rap out titled “I wish I could F—- every girl in the world.” I asked him what purpose does this song serve other than to promote men (boys) going around to just have sex with people for no other reason than to try and prove the song. His answer is “he gettin paid” I tried logic on him. I asked him what would you do if you had a daughter who had a boyfriend who lived by this song and she came home and told you she was H.I.V. positive because of this boy’s behavior. His response was “that’s on her.” He was not joking. This is really the ideology of this generation and to me they have not earned the right to any fruits of the labor that Affirmative Action has given us. When I shot down his trying to be a “C-Rapper,” he then asks me if I had seen him play basketball, I had something for him with that question. I asked “oh” are you trying to be Lance Stephenson, a high school basketball star who has had more controversy surrounding him before he goes pro. This young man “was” the first round pick for colleges but because of so many “alleged” legal problems, he delayed announcing his decision to attend the University of Cincinnati. I asked, oh so you want to be a “one and done” player and go right to the pros like he is supposed to after “attending” the University of Cincinnati on a scholarship that someone else could benefit from and stay more than one year. Lance Stephenson wants to go pro and he has been touted to go pro but the NBA has a rule to no longer take high school graduates.
To be considered for the pros, a high school grad must complete at least one year of school at a four-year institution before they can go pro. If you have seen this young man’s TV show (bornreadytv.com), as far as he is concerned it is a done deal. He will do his one-year and then he is pro bound. He brags about the NBA players that have been to his house to play ball with him. His father throws a party for him for his birthday as if he is P-Diddy and my question is this, why not spend that money on his college education? To watch this show it is to see how far back our young people have fallen in the quest to making a better life for themselves. I asked my nephew is that what he wants for his life to be a “one and done” and know that if maybe he stayed he could have a college degree and still go pro. He was stumped as most of the last generation and the next two to three generations of Africans are because they fail to see that they have to still work hard to keep what our ancestors worked so hard for not so long ago.