Letter To African American Adolescents: Time To Get Serious

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Ray Blount

[Op-Ed]

I am an African American male and recent high school graduate.

Throughout the duration of my high school career, I gained a great deal of knowledge as to what the key factors are that drag us to the depths of society.  Whether derived from a cultural and or social setting, habits and ideas such as “saggin” and broken English are extracting the beauty and power which our race possesses.

Despite the endless efforts we’ve taken to plead our case that “we’re grown,” the situation remains the same. However, nothing beats a failure but a try.  Still, many of us African American youth are unable to muster up the energy to try and give even an ounce effort toward acting as adults would. In a nutshell, this is sheer nonsense, stupidity and lunacy. 

Everyone ought to take a deep breath and analyze themselves, from time to time.  Whenever anyone is among the public and or body of people, their aim is to appear tried and true.  Your image alone can write a book about you.  Most will declare they do not care about their image, but if you do not care, you do not care about yourself.

About five years ago, I sat in a meeting where the speaker spoke on “saggin”.  The speaker broke down how the word spelled backwards reads, “niggas”.  When I took the time to analyze this, it served as a revelation to me because at that time, I was doing it every day.

It makes me cringe to even think I was a part of that, but this discovery is what was necessary to mold me into the man I am today.  My mother told me that my mouth can get me in trouble, but I address the unaddressed - it’s in my blood. Anytime you have the audacity to “sag” your pants, you’re missing something and that something is order.  Additionally, when you care about yourself, you will not allow yourself to be viewed by the world as useless or just another statistic.  Often times, I stare in dismay because this is MY race behaving this way.

Another question: Since when have males begun dying their hair with colors of the rainbow? You’re a male, but this is a feminine approach in building a persona.  If everyone on Earth can be categorized as women, it goes without saying this would bring imbalance.  Men should reflect strength as leaders of families and their communities.  As a man, you don’t ever want to be known as “soft” or “weak,” and I’m not speaking on how many one-armed push-ups you can do.  You don’t want to be taken as a joke when it comes to your strength in standing for what you believe in and what is right.  When a male dyes his hair this symbolizes a lack of strength.

Verbiage is essential in communication, regardless of the language.  If you cannot communicate, you are simply unheard. Some of us can speak proper English, and some can’t.  However, some of those who can speak proper English are not speaking at all.  They’d rather mumble and or utter sounds instead of pronouncing words correctly.  If you didn’t know better, you would swear they were humming.  You could classify this as ignorance, but they are fully educated on how to speak grammatically correct; therefore, that makes this idiocy.  It also shows a lack of intelligence.  Open your mouth and speak.

The genre of music accepted and loved by African American youths of today is Hip Hop/Rap. Due to the evolution of this art form, the sound and value of this music has transformed into a platform stressing murder is perfectly fine.  We are killing ourselves.  Some of us males hear this music and feel the need to act it out, which causes multiple problems including death.  And you wonder where so many criminal cases come from?  We must break away from negativity and prove our endowed worth.

Though it may seem as if African American males are the main source of the problem in our community, there are some females who engage in these exact same activities. Luckily, there are some ladies who do not, and strive to steer clear from this way of life.   Still when it comes to looking for a male companion, I have seen some of the most beautiful and intelligent women settle for less. 

The standard for what is considered “ok” or reasonable in terms of a mate is at an all-time low for African American women.  People should want the best out of life, not just the bare minimum, and that relates to everything including your significant other.  Why should a woman want a man who can barely speak English and wears his pants around his ankles?  Some young women are not only attached to men like this but are excited by them because they do not know any better.  They don’t know what a real man is. They must be introduced to how a real man behaves.

In conclusion, we, African American adolescents can be so much better if we just try.  I understand some are accustomed to this way of life and thinking, but we have to break through these barriers. We are the future, but as of right now, tomorrow would be a sad place to be if these behaviors continue. 

Just take life one day at a time.  We can take the dark clouds of shame and hopelessness and turn them into rays of sunshine for a better future.  It is my hope that we start to change things for the better which is why I have written this letter to you.

 

Ray Blount is a social critic and aspiring entrepreneur.  He may be reached at raytovenworks@gmail.com 

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