Over the last few weeks, I've heard
a lot of talk about how 'hard' it is to get ahead in America. As a matter
of fact, between Ellis Cose's
'Newsweek' article on "12 Things You Must Know to Survive and Thrive
in America" in January, and T. D. Jakes' "The Ten Commandments
To Survive In A Hostile Environment" in February, one would be
led to the assumption--if not the outright conclusion--that many folks
'forgotten' the basics when it comes to success.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
What we HAVE forgotten--when it comes to dealing with ourselves
and our youth--that the HOME is the place where the foundation
is laid for life success. If the parent(s) won't do--its not going to
come true! No matter how many 'self-help' tapes, books, and videos one
may consume; if it is not modeled at YOUR house, it is not going
to 'show up' in the school, the workplace, or on the street.
No beating around the bush. If you want to train someone up to be successful,
it has to start early--at home--to reach the mind of that young man, or
THE BEAUTIFUL LIE OF 'SELF-ESTEEM':
Brothers, let me say again that teens are NOT stupid! They
have a very effective and vast underground intelligence-gathering network.
They can find out in a few moments, or hours, what's real, and what's
not. Further, they can 'test' your boundaries and 'probe' your character,
faster than the Borg could probe the USS Enterprise.
Mainstream society is quick to say that our teens have a 'self-esteem'
problem because they don't 'act' or 'receive' truth the way that we would
like them. That is a LIE, and a BEAUTIFUL
LIE at best, designed
to aid in the sale of Ritalin, self-esteem books, and the deadly agendas
of homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, and abdication of responsibility.
Brothers, we have to face the beautiful lie with the ugly truth. Our next
generation will always have to be prepared for adulthood. It's only a
few short years from the playground to the boardroom. The only way that
young men become successful adults is their minds have to be shaped and
made ready for the battles ahead: careers, marriage, employment, and raising
their own children.
The rules haven't changed.
The one with a disciplined mind will achieve.
The one with a wandering mind will be a slave and a statistic.
AN EXAMPLE FROM OUR COMEDIC FOREFATHERS:
Ever think of Bob Newhart, Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield and
Dick Gregory as being kindred spirits? Frankly, I doubt--if hard pressed--one
could think of them in the same sentence! Well, let me break it down
*Bob Newhart's style of comedy deals with examining the chaos
that comes from order. If you ever watched him work the stage, or in
a show, he was the one sane point of reason, operating on the field of
Hence, his nickname, 'The Button-Down Mind'.
*Richard Pryor's comedy, on the other hand, challenged the system
by taking pre-conceived notions of victimhood, and giving the 'victim'
a streak of militancy and a backbone, armed with some 'down home' common-sense!
If you ever heard his bit 'Just Us', you KNOW what I mean!
*Rodney Dangerfield's comedy comes from the hurts of life, and
turning them around to make them shared experiences, getting us to think
PAST the hurts and put downs by family, friends, even husbands and wives,
uniting us in the bonds of reality. He may not; 'Get Any Respect', but
his brand of comedy forces you to realize that the individual, no matter
what they faced, was still important, and WAS NOT going to go over into
a corner and be still!
*Dick Gregory's brand of comedic social satire is STILL
primo! The comedian- turned-observer and commentator is hot, on the money,
and can make a stone crack. One of the best situations 'Greg' threw
ago was on the space program, and what if the folk on the moon were BLACK.
All time best line: '...and NEXT year, we're going to come VISIT YOU!'
WHERE THE MIND GOES, THE PANTS WILL FOLLOW:
For YEARS we have been nagging our youth to pull up their pants.
On the streets, in the schools, in the hood. We have become so focused
on pants, that we have forgotten their MINDS! Have you EVER heard
a Fortune 500 CEO have to nag his staff about keeping their pants up?
NO! Because their MINDS have been conditioned to THINK like adults,
instead of adolescents on hormones!
Brothers--here's a novel approach; let's start going for their MINDS!
For, where the mind goes, the pants will follow! The biblical principle
is crystal clear: As a man thinketh in his heart, so IS he! Let's stop
looking at our youth as 'victims', but as VICTORS! If WE change
our thinking, brothers, they WILL eventually catch our throw, and UP
the pants will go! By the way, the same can also happen to standardized
CAN YOU JAM?
Here in my home city of Indianapolis, Indiana, my barber has a chess
board in his shop. When C. Burt, owner of 'Heavenly Cuts' wanted to test
mental prowess of a potential, or veteran customer, the invitation is
a simple one: "Can you JAM?" That one phrase got your mental
gears in motion for a warrior's game in the land of Pawns, Rooks, and
"Do You Yahoo?" The folks over at that search engine and megasite
went for the mental jugular with that phrase...probably THE phrase that
describes the Internet experience.
Here's a novel idea: Let's S-T-O-P whining about the successes
of other races, or other people. If you want to see success, you will
have to train your mind to do those right things to be successful. If
you want to have successful children, then train their minds for success--and
not victimhood, nor salvation through 'self-help' programs.
GRAB THAT TEST BY THE THROAT!
If you haven't had the chance, get the video 'Lean On Me', and take
a solid look at the life and times of veteran educator Joe Clark, as
portrayed by Morgan Freeman. Clark had a 'take no prisoners' approach
discipline, and academic achievement. Sure, it's Hollywood, but it has
a point. Focus on the mind, and the scores will follow.
Brothers, we have complained until we are white in the face, about the
unfairness of tests in the American education arena. I've noticed that
few complain about them as much as we do. It's now time to move to the
next level and teach our youth that they can whip ANY test! Yelling
and screaming at a young man, or a young woman, to 'do' better in school
does not always work. In fact, many of our young people have become so
conditioned to yelling, that they think it's strange when someone is NOT yelling
at them. Especially when it comes to taking those 'tests'.
If one teaches a student BY a test, the student will only learn what they
need for THAT particular test. If one teaches a student to THINK,
they can handle ANY test, be it on paper, or on the street, or in the
workplace. Lastly, if one teaches a student HOW to take a test, not only
will the student perform better, they will achieve higher scores!
HOW do you teach someone to master a 'hard' thing? By discipline.
By drill. By challenge. By rehearsal. Luck has nothing to do with success.
IT RESTS WITH THE HOME:
Again brothers, no matter how youth are taught in the school house,
the rubber meets the road in YOUR house. If you, as a parent,
don't like to read; if you have dropped out of--or never finished--school;
if you secretly have exchanged getting your own mind focused and ready
to learn, then don't be shocked that your own children won't do well
it comes time to 'hit the books'.
Brothers, let's be blunt. Over the years, the mainstream press and the
education establishment have convinced parents to stay out of the classroom.
These same two institutions, by the way, were the same ones who cheered
when God and the Bible were ushered out the schoolhouse door.
Soon, It was Mom and Dad's turn to be shown the same exit. We SURE didn't
see THAT one coming!
Parents--be they single, or couples--were told, in no uncertain terms,
that education should be left to the 'professionals'. Parental authority,
it seems, counted for little than to provide funding for education, provide
carpools to get the kids to school, but was not needed for discipline
in the home--or school.
Then came Columbine. Then came the globalization of the economic system.
Then came teenage pregnancy, teenage suicide, and teenage rebellion. Then
came 'single parent' homes, with single parents who, in too many cases,
won' t take responsibility for their own actions, but are quick to blame
everyone else for their antics that got them pregnant. Other races soon
realized that we were ALL in the same boat, when it came to public
education, just like the proverbial magician who couldn't pull any more
rabbits out of the hat. After 30 years of conditioning parents to stay
away from the schoolhouse, the same two institutions NOW want
parents--especially fathers--involved in the education of their children.
As Dick Gregory once quipped, concerning the bankruptcy of the social,
political, and economic landscapes: "We've run out of tricks, but
expect YOU (the next generation) to solve the same problems!"
ALL IT TAKES IS TIME, EFFORT--AND ENCOURAGEMENT:
We haven't forgotten how to encourage our young people to excel in
the minors, like sports, dating, partying, and rapping. I've noticed
some parents will stay up half the night, mugging for TV cameras and
with their teens to get concert tickets, 'Harry Potter' books, or a 'slammin
' tux or dress for the prom; then get mad when the same teen fails to
pass their courses to graduate, or gets kicked out of school.
It's all about majoring on the majors of life. Having a degree, and a
diploma are the major leagues.
We have no right to complain about test scores, if we, as parents, won't
focus on the importance of a need for an education. Single, or married,
parent, if YOU don't value an education, your child won't either.
Report cards only tell half the story of a student's progress. So do test
scores. The other half of the story rests where that student lives.
Make the sacrifice. Turn off the videos, and get out the books. Bring
up Charles Drew, Madame C. J. Walker, and Dr. George Washington Carver
at the dinner table. Get active, instead of passive at the church house,
and the school house. Stop turning your child's mind over to the local
school system and demanding that THEY fill it--fill it YOURSELF!
Stop whining about poor academic performance, if YOU haven't exercised
parental authority, leadership, and discipline under your OWN roof!
In the end analysis, one who has a strong mind will survive a lot longer
than one who has the latest styles on their back. Go for the mind.
It works in comedy. It works in entertainment. It can also work in education.
To hell with the excuses and victimhood mentality. To hell with 'whining'
single parents who care more about their wallets and hairstyles than raising
their kids to do the right thing. Go for the mind. The child WILL follow.
More importantly, you won't need to 'get excited' whenever the latest
'learning trend' or 'success nugget' pops up in the mainstream,
or religious press. You will already be successful, because--brother--you
are leading where it counts.
In your OWN home!