Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Thankya Laude

Ooooh-WEEE MANE!! Those 3 day weekends are off the chain!!! I wish we could do it like that EVRA week.

I know what you mean.

But right around 5:30-6 o’clock Monday? I started feeling that cloud tapping me on the back of my head.


Yeah, that cloud that taps you and says, ‘Don’t forget about ME n’ga, you got 3 days off this time, but you gotta come see me first thang Tuesday morning.’

Oh… (laughing) you’re talking about your job.

Yeah mane, I’m starting to HATE this mf!

Well, at least you get Memorial Day off.

Yeah, but I ain’t getting PAID for the holiday, it’s just another day I don’t have to come to work.

Really? So your check is going to be less one day’s pay for the week?


Hmph..sounds to me like you need to get on your hustle then.

I AM hustling!!

How many hours do you need to get your college degree?

Uhhh..well, you know, I lost some credits when I transferred, so I still have awhile to go.

I hear that, but the main thing is to keep working towards your goal.

It’s hard working and going to school at the same time mane.

I ain’t trying to hear that, of course it’s hard, but that’s where you are right now. There’s a LOT of people who get their high school diplomas, undergraduate degrees, and graduate degrees while working and taking care of their families at the same time. As long as you keep progressing towards graduation, you’ll get there. But if you quit? You’re stuck right where you are.

Everybody ain’t a genius and all like you mane!

Genius?? N’ga, I’m not a genius!! I’m far from it..as a matter of fact, when I first started school, I was having so many problems paying attention, my parents had to take me to get tested by specialist doctors so they could determine if I was retarded.

What happened??

The doctors told my parents that my hearing, motor skills and cognitive reasoning were fine, I was just CHOOSING to not listen or pay attention.

Did they put you on some kind of medication or something??

Yeah, I got some medicine alright, it’s called az whuppings Rx. My momma was so relieved to find out I was medically fine, but then she got mad that I had been acting like I couldn’t hear or understand all the time, ‘huh? What?’, that she put down the ‘zero tolerance’ rule. Get out of line or not pay attention at school or at home? “Go get that belt you ol hard headed boy! I’m through talking to you!! “

How long did it take for you to straighten out?

Once I realized that both my parents were going to kill me if I didn’t straighten up, I began to show immediate progress in school.

(laughing) Your parents put it on you huh?

Hmph…you already know!
Just like most other working class Americans, Memorial Day found me relaxing and enjoying good food, good family and good friends. I did a little research and I discovered that the holiday we celebrate as Memorial Day was initially called Decoration Day. It was a day set aside to honor all of the soldiers who fought in the Civil War. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) as a national holiday, meant to commemorate ALL the American soldiers who have fought for our country. I know that there are a lot of American soldiers away from home on foreign soil fighting to defend the liberties and freedoms that go along with being an American citizen. I hope they all know that no matter where they are, and no matter what country they are currently in, we all appreciate everything that they are doing. We might not all agree on the reasons why they are over there, but we all need to recognize the sacrifices that our soldiers are making every day for our freedom here in America. Our prayers are with all of you and we look forward to all of you making it home safely.

Aside from the military aspect of Memorial Day weekend, it is also a time when a lot of students are graduating from their respective high schools and colleges. I’ve had the pleasure to attend a few ceremonies so far this spring, and I must say that each one touched my heart in unique places.

The one that made me the most proud is my cousin who received her undergraduate degree. What makes her so special, is that she defied all the odds and excuses of ‘why not’ and instead just went and did the damn thang! From being a single working mom, to being a married working mom, to being a married, working mother of 2, she never stopped. And right along with the rest of us who were celebrating her achievement, was her youngest child who was born in her last semester. All those who have a million excuses of why you can’t get your paper, she’s a shining example of what prayer and hard work can really do! CONGRATULATIONS TEE-TEE!!!

As with most achievers, a common factor for success is a loving and supportive family. Parents can’t DO the work for their children; instead parents are commissioned to offer a loving and supportive environment for the child to grow in. There are a lot of parents today going through a difficult time with their child. Whether it’s learning disabilities or attention deficit problems, the task of educating a child often requires parents to reach down inside for more.
Working an extra job to pay for a tutor, getting up early in the morning to get your child to a better school on the other side of town, doing without cable and other amenities to save for college, the list is never-ending. But before parents run out to buy the latest computer software or enroll their child in the most expensive school, you can’t forget the most vital ingredient that the learning process must entail, love.

It doesn’t matter how educated or smart a parent is, once they start making decisions rooted in their love for their child, good things are bound to happen. It may not happen immediately, especially for those with learning deficiencies or special needs, but it will surely happen. Because once parents start making decisions of love and focus on what’s best for their child, the results will eventually manifest themselves. These love decisions are not always about money either, more often than not they’re about time. Taking the time to help your child, to read with them, learn with them, check in with their teachers at school to make sure everything is going okay, these are all time sacrifices which pay huge dividends later on down the road. As much as some black people want to decry Bill Cosby’s remarks, "Parents are spending $500 on sneakers for their child, but they won’t spend $200 for ‘Hooked on Phonics’ so their child can learn how to read", those of us who are cognizant of what’s really going on in the hood know that he’s right on point.

The most crucial investment for all parents to make is our children. Some parents are just so hooked up on their children ‘looking’ like they have status or money, that they completely ignore the most important things like quality of education and respectful attitudes. Too many parents in the hood are sending their kids to school expecting their teachers to not only teach them reading, writing and arithmetic, but also manners and how to act. Subsequently, we have classrooms full of unruly and disrespectful children, along with the ones who are in their own world and not even paying attention to anything the teacher is saying. If teachers spend most of their time disciplining and reprimanding their students, it takes away from learning time. Attitude and deportment may all seem harmless when the children are young and in grade school, but if these key traits aren’t addressed early, then by the time the kids get to high school (if they make it) the parents are dealing with full blown attitude problems. Bad attitudes are normally a direct result of spoiled children. When parents indulge their children, buying them almost anything their heart desires and allowing them to speak freely without any semblance of respect, these small attitude problems grow into teenage horror stories. Kids cursing out teachers and refusing to submit authority,

You can’t tell me what to do! You ain’t my daddy!!

That is why I implore all parents to ‘nip it in the bud’. You’ve got to get to children early and train them in the way that they should go. Because as funny as it may seem for 5 and 6 year olds to throw tantrums and fits, if left unchecked these same kids will grow up with a distorted view of how the world really works. Our goal as parents is to prepare our children for the day when they’re out on their own. Taking care of their own home, raising their own kids. Whenever we have parents who refuse to assume the responsibility of properly training their child, we have a void that is magnified even more in the next generation. This is a vicious cycle known as the ghetto mentality. Some parents are so bitter about their childhoods and hardships, that they refuse to do more for their children out of spite,

My folks never did sh’t for me, my kids gotta make it like I did!!

This is what is holding the working class and poor folks back so much, because ignorant parents raise ignorant kids. And the cycle just keeps on going.

I had the pleasure of having all 4 of my grandparents attend my high school graduation. One of the reasons this was so special to me, was because none of them ever graduated from high school themselves. As a matter of fact, only 1 out of the 4 even made it out of grade school. It was a lot different time for Black folks back in those pre-Depression years. Most couldn’t go to school, because they had to use all of the daylight hours working out in the fields or taking in wash for white folks just to survive.

School wasn’t a requirement, it was a luxury, which they couldn’t afford. My grandfather, the late Bishop Sam Scott, Sr. (pictured) was one of the hardest workingmen that I have ever met in my life. Although he didn’t have much formal education, he learned how to read and write and that was enough for him. In his mind, “if a man learns how to work with his hands, he’ll never go hungry.” It is with these hands and hustling spirit of his, that he fed, clothed and sheltered 12 kids. The key point is, although my grandparents weren’t educated folks, they did everything in their power to make sure their children went to school and ‘got their lesson’.

I bring this up to say that black folks in 2004 have NO EXCUSE for not applying ourselves academically. It comes down to having loving parents who are committed to supplying the best education possible for their children, whether that’s in public or private school. It is no longer illegal for blacks to learn how to read and write, but judging by the language skills of so many of our students, you’d think it was a felony punishable by lethal injection. There is no magic referendum or law that is going to save our young black students. There is no saving politician or administrator that is going to cure all of our woes and deficiencies. The only thing that’s going to save black kids are black parents.

Parenting is a maturing process that will make or break a lot of people. Some try to do the right thing, but they can’t keep it up with consistency. They don’t make sure their kids are doing their homework because they’re too busy watching American Idol or the ballgame. Or maybe they’re out running the streets still stuck on being a kid themselves, even though they have their own kids to raise at home. There are so many different paradigms and issues that are assaulting the black family: poverty, drugs, crime, abuse, etc. that makes it harder for a child to focus on the learning experience. This isn’t a new problem with the black family, this dilemma is actually a snowball effect that started when the first slave ships arrived on American shores. But instead of using the years of educational and social oppression as a crutch, black folks need to realize that no one’s going to save us from ignorance but us.

You don’t have to graduate Magna Cum Laude (High Distinction) or Summa Cum Laude (Highest Distinction), you can be that student who BARELY scrapes through the minimum requirements and graduate Thankya Laude, just make sure you keep progressing toward your goal. The real sad part about all of this, is that the people who need to read this the most won’t. Instead they’ll scroll through and look at the pictures and move on. They don’t have the attention span or the time to read all these words, it’s too much like homework to them.