By Rebecca S. Jones
HOUSTON – Proverbs 20:29 declares, “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.” But, what good is strength, when there is no wisdom to assert on how to use it? On the other hand, what good is wisdom if it is not being invested into a younger demographic to enhance the future in some way or another?
As it is, the African-American community of today has lost many of the fundamental values that had been passed down from generation to generation. For some, education and knowledge has replaced the old virtues of, “yes sir” and “no mam”, “thank you” and “you’re welcome”.
Many have become too intelligent to be helped, less known mentored. Thus, we are witnessing “mis-educated” scholars who are, all suited and dressed up with nowhere to go.
Before I attempt to delve into this growing phenomenon, I must first provide our readers with a disclaimer. The individuals depicted in the photos associated with this piece are used as a mere phantasm of the way things have become. But, what happened? How did we get here?
Root of the Problem
Sure, I am not able to address every issue which has and is contributing to the destruction of our community. However, I will do my best to identify a few of the underlying factors which exist. After hearing phrases like, “The more miseducated we get, the more unemployable we become” from Roy Douglas Malonson and Pastor Richard Jones, Sr. who always said, “The less we had, the better off we were.” I can’t help but think there is some self-inflicted truth to what is happening within our culture in real-time.
But let’s rewind back in time, because certainly we didn’t just get here overnight. One disconnect occurred when parents first started saying, “I’m not gon raise my children the way Mama and Daddy raised us.” Not realizing that stern, “no-non- sense” demeanor toted them a long way. Despite the method and delivery, those approaches kept pennies flowing in the household, a stable roof to dwell under, children out of the grave and penal system and; a certain sense of pride even when society suggested it was not popular for a Black person to have such.
Some have contributed this element to the entrance of integration within Black America. I am told of a time when there were certain things that Black folks just wouldn’t do.
Yet, when mixing and mingling with different personalities and spirits from other backgrounds, it is an automatic rule of thumb that something will be inherited or transferred. That is exactly what happened. Maybe, some things were for the good, but a person can never go wrong by being true to themselves. Therefore, adapting and adjusting to appease others and fit in has created a wealth of dressed up folk, with nowhere to go.
History documents periods in our past when Black people were self-sufficient, resourceful and reliable. Even being in bondage and under the Three- Fifths Compromise, which regarded Blacks as three-fifths a person, it did not stagnate the prominence of Black Wall Street and others like it.
Though Blacks were abandoned on a lonely island, discouragement and alienation was used as a platform to establish justice, equality and the civil rights we currently enjoy.
Here we are at the close of 2018, 50 years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and some things are still business as usual. While it is easier to scapegoat the many underlying problems, we face on those who do not look like us; the truth is we ourselves, often commit the greater sin towards each other. We have a generation who has very little knowledge about what it means to respect themselves, their parents, family members, leaders, employers or anybody else – but, still dressed up. It appears that modern sophistication, technology and mis-education has alleviated the importance of relying on elders to show the way as the youth are trained to lead the way.
The Black community is in a desperate need for young leaders to take a stand, but how can the present leadership feel comfortable passing the torch on to a dressed-up, entitled generation with nowhere to go?
In other cultures, leaders mentor the youth and the youth are susceptible to learning from them. Once the young have followed, trained and put in a fair share of labor they go on to manage and lead the rest of the way. But in our community, so many of the youth are busy degrading, disrespecting and criticizing the efforts of the elders and leaders instead of learning from them.
As a result, many just look good styling and profiling on social media platforms and posted up in the streets and at the club; but have no real direction in terms of true servitude and leadership.
It is impossible to lead a people when you have no experience following, or nothing else for that matter. A lot of youngsters want to come directly out of college and feel like they are ready to go to war and have not endured anything.
Pardon my digression, but, it’s easy to talk about how bad a soldier who has battle wounds from war looks, when you have never been in battle and have no idea what it takes to come out alive.
The same is the case for many of our “mis-educated” youth, who feel their education has entitled them to skip to the front of the line. Yeah, you