WKRP In Cincinnati, in my humble opinion, had to be one of the all-time best sitcoms that ever hit the airwaves. One of the last episodes of the first incarnation of the series involved Mama Carlson (Carol Bruce) making the decision to switch the format of WKRP in order for the station to continue to serve to lose money, a perfect tax write-off for her successful companies. Of course, Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman) catches on to Mama’s intent, and utters the immortal quip: “This is so twisted, even I get it!”
Unless you have been hiding out in a foreign land, you’ve no doubt heard or saw those ‘miraculous’ marches involving Illegal Aliens wanting to be rewarded with citizenship for sneaking across the Mexico/U.S. border and displaying a great work ethic away from their homeland.
(Of course, when Jamaicans, Africans, and other people of color have sailed to our shores in leaky boats, they get caught by the U. S. Coast Guard and turned or shipped back by INS--now called ICE--but that’s another story for another column.)
The purpose of this month’s column is not talk about the Illegal Aliens, but a NEW subgroup, which I have dubbed the ‘Volunteer Aliens’. Some of them live in our homes. Some of them ‘attempt’ to ‘breeze by’ their respective schools. Some of them you see walking the streets of our cities. Some of them fill our headlines, jails--and morgues.
It may shock many of us to know that every time a teen drops out of school another Volunteer Alien is born with their final destination being a land below the poverty line.
PUTTING YOU IN THE DRIVER‘S SEAT:
I purposely capitalized the terms ‘Illegal Aliens’ and ‘Volunteer Aliens.’
Now, let’s probe our collective memories.
Remember about a decade ago that many U. S. companies made a conga line south across the border with the ‘illusion’ of making such moves because of ‘cheaper labor costs’? That was code for ‘searching for slave labor’…but I digress. Here’s another memory tester: When did we start to see an explosion of folks crossing the border? Right! Just as soon as U. S. companies began moving south!
To yours truly, the entire Illegal Alien issue in this new century is just as easy to understand as slavery was in the past few centuries.
It’s all about the money, baby.
Doubt me? Let’s do some quick business math and put you in the corporate boardroom as the owner of a small company. What is the number one cost that will either make or break a small business? That’s right--a company’s labor cost! If you, as a business owner, can find a worker who is willing to work for LESS than the minimum wage, would you hire that person? Even IF that person were a recent ‘under the cover of darkness’ arrival to these shores? While many of us may say NO, remember, you are the owner of a small business, which means that you may be more than happy to say YES, just to keep your doors open.
ENTER ‘TIME MAGAZINE’ AND A GRIM COVER STORY:
The April 2006, Time Magazine had a great cover story on the rising dropout rate in America. Entitled: “Dropout Nation”, it featured teens in--and out--of school in Shelbyville, Indiana which is not too far away from the home city of yours truly. It was hard not to miss that magazine, with the defiant face of a young white girl on the cover.
She is the Poster Child of the Volunteer Aliens.
I’m not going into all of the statistics, teen angst, surveys or parents wringing their hands over how many teens--white and black--are bypassing the school house door for the ‘quick buck’ at a fast food joint or some other enterprise, only to find out that they have to have work permits, pay taxes, and engage in surviving from paycheck to paycheck. The high school dropout--just like the dropout in the magazine cover story--quickly learns that without an education, their earning power quickly shrinks, and their upward mobility in an open society is quickly halted. No one ‘forced’ them to drop out. They ‘volunteered’ for the thankless trip out of the schoolhouse door. Instead of hearing the strains of music and the sounds of applause, these ‘new aliens’ only hear the sound of the door hitting them in the butt as they head down the stairs and out into real life…uneducated and unprepared.
PLIGHT OF ILLEGAL AND VOLUNTEER ALIENS THE SAME:
The Illegal Alien takes whatever job they can find, and that job is usually under the minimum wage. This is the similar mindset of the Volunteer Alien. The Illegal Alien, for all practical purposes, is at the mercy of the employer. So is the Volunteer Alien. The Illegal Alien will have a ‘crash pad’ rental property involving several of their friends where they can pool their resources. The Volunteer Alien has the same agenda. The Illegal Alien pays for everything in cash, worships the dollar bill, and is constantly on the lookout for those ‘free’ items that allow them to continue to exist for just another day. So does the Volunteer Alien. Lastly, the Illegal Alien, for whatever reason, is just too hardheaded to go through the legitimate citizenship process just like others who have come to the shores of this land. The Volunteer Alien is too hardheaded to admit that their parents, teachers, and friends were right…life was a lot better in school.
It is easy to see why fewer and fewer people are feeling sorry for either group.
Brothers, this is a twisted portrait of life in the USA. While we have to look to national and state leaders to formulate, adopt, and have the courage to enforce a decent immigration policy, we have to re-learn to the mantra of: ‘Get your education, kid’ in many of our communities. It is more than an economic issue: it is a family preservation issue.
While some of the best and brightest young men (and young women) among us have bought into the ‘beautiful lie’ that being a Volunteer Alien at 15, 16, and 17 will miraculously spell ‘economic success’ at 21, 25, and 30, they seem to forget that marriages, families, and households are closely tied to the earning potential of the man of the house. Like it or not brothers, marriage is still biblical and socially acceptable in our ‘fast’ society. Also, it is UP to the MAN to provide for his household. Get a young Black man to give away his education is the prevention of another intact Black family getting off the ground, AND it will cause the next generation of children born to that brother (usually outside of marriage) to hate spending time in school--just like their father!
Don’t shout me down when the truth is flowing.
Of course, there is more. I don’t know if you have noticed, but there is a big sneeze forming in the ranks of the majority culture to ‘blow many a mind,’ thanks to that TIME cover story I mentioned earlier. Like it or not, brothers, we ALL know who will get pneumonia when that sneeze eventually comes forth in all its fury…and it will not be those of the majority culture.
Sadly, if one has chosen to become a Volunteer Alien, they may become frozen in their decision when that sneeze does materialize. The thawing period for one who is AWOL from the classroom is no joke. Just ask many of those who ‘dropped out’ of school, and ‘dropped into’ crime. Their new classrooms have bars…and guards…along with teachers.
MIKE RAMEY is the author of THE MANHOOD LINE. A syndicated, monthly
column written for men from a biblical, business, and common sense perspective.
It appears on fine websites around the world. Emails, Bmails and Pmails are welcomed
to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2006 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications International.
Used by permission, BlackandChristian.com, 2006.