If the year 2020 has taught me anything, it’s taught me about self-reflection; our days are numbered, our time is valuable, and fulfilling our purpose is dependent upon us. Since it’s coming to a close, I wanted to share a reflection regarding my community and our culture that’s bothered me for the longest. And that’s the lies we tell Black boys.
The lack of respect for Black youth in America, particularly our sons, is evident everywhere. And very few within my community will call out its pre-cursor, the lack of accountability on our end.
Both Black men and women, in large enough numbers, will lie to Black boys as if they’re not going to grow up to become men. We won’t prepare them for the realities of the world or the plight of our community but complain about there being a lack of Black Alpha Men who are going to fix it. The Baby Boys are rewarded and coddled, and they keep reproducing because the culture hasn’t changed, and very few of us want to take responsibility for the lies still being told.
What are some of those lies?
Here are a few:
Athletics and Entertainment is the Solution, Not Scholarship
According to a national survey of sports by the Aspen Institute’s Project Play & Utah State University’s Families in Sport Lab, African American parents rated the pursuit of a college athletic scholarship 23% more important and a Pro Sports opportunity 26% more important than white parents. However, data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) advised that only 1% of 5% of high school athletes receive a Division 1 athletic scholarship, and less than 2% of all NCAA athletes will ever play Pro Sports.
According to PubMed Central (PMC), Black male youth in urban neighborhoods have high but less stable aspirations than those in suburban areas. Due to economic discrepancies, social cognitive cues like rap music media helps shape their aspiration goals. Rap music is viewed as an appealing mode of socioeconomic mobility for youth and their families. But less than 2% of aspiring rappers make it in the music industry.
Now, I’m not implying that careers in entertainment and athletics shouldn’t be pursued or respected. But pedestalizing them over academics is reckless.
Crying About The Struggle Warrants Respect
Aside from the marketing kit anchored from the George Floyd protests, what annoyed me the most was the behavior from parents who recorded their children and toddlers pretending to be outraged about something they really didn’t understand. Gaining social media clout, a following, and recognition was more important to them than optics or the message they used their children to send out: hopelessness.
Crybaby culture has been a part of my community all of my life, and I wouldn’t be so smug when calling it out if we weren’t so contradictory. As mentioned throughout this blog, forced multiculturalism isn’t a viable solution in a country built and sustained off racial disparities. Yet, my community tends to be the biggest advocates for it while simultaneously complaining about race relations. This behavior discredits everything we cry about, and it doesn’t help that our children, particularly our boys, are affected by the contradictions the most.
Competing Against Other Groups is an Option
In a 1992 episode of The Phil Donahue Show, American journalist and scholar Tony Brown argued that he had no interest in understanding whether or not whites liked blacks. He had no interest in managed societies or having to sit next to someone because they’re white. He was interested in being equal, and the only way you’re equal is to have power.
That message is still relatively foreign to my community because our collective behavior isn’t conducive to obtaining power, particularly when it comes to how we rear Black boys. If you study any social science on tribalism, you’ll find out that to conquer a tribe, you take out the men first. So us not raising our sons with the understanding that they have a responsibility when they become men to compete, win, and dominate everyone to be respected is irresponsible.
I could’ve used this post to break down the psychology of Black men and women concerning our history in this country, supporting my arguments with information on how it’s affected our families. But that would’ve been a waste of my time. Our sons are here, and they’re still coming. So doing our own independent study and telling Black boys the truth about who they are and what their role will be as Black men should no longer be up for discussion.
If it is, we have no right to complain.
Until Next Time…
Foster, B. B. (2015, May 20). “Everybody Gotta Have a Dream”: Rap-centered Aspirations among Young Black Males Involved in Rap Music Production – A Qualitative Study. Retrieved December 15, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4438857/
Survey: African-American youth more often play sports to chase college, pro dreams. (2020, February 25). Retrieved December 15, 2020, from https://www.aspenprojectplay.org/national-youth-sport-survey/african-american-youth-more-often-play-sports-to-chase-college-pro-dreams