I’ve noticed an alarming trend in the black community. I’ve experienced it myself growing up and I’ve also noticed it throughout my adulthood as I’ve looked at people both younger than me and my same age. There is not only a disinterest, but a disdain for education in the black community.
Growing up I was the smart kid in the hood. I played the violin. I went to a school for advanced studies when all the other kids in my neighborhood went to school together. As much as I tried not to draw attention, I couldn’t help it. It’s hard to imagine how many times I’ve heard that school is some white people $*#%, that going to college is some white people $*#%, that being successful is some white people $*#%. I was teased and ridiculed. Called a nerd, amongst a plethora of other names. And I had to fight.
Since I went to school on the other side of town and rode the bus home, I arrived in the neighborhood after the other kids. One day, as I got off the bus a couple kids were waiting on me. One of them told me to drop my violin, but I thought he was trying to take it from me and I refused. The two boys closed in and I dropped my violin just as one of them took a swing at me. I fought with the boys for a while, but this was a common occurrence for me. People always tried to pick on the smart kid. I was used to fighting and they realized that I wasn’t going down easily, so they gave up and left. Nose pouring a river of blood down my face, I picked my violin up and made my way home.
My grandfather had been a professor and my grandmother a music teacher. From the very beginning, they pressed education upon me. Despite the challenges I faced as the smart guy in the hood, I appreciate every time they told me to go read a book. I wasn’t the one with the problem. The problem was that the people around me had been conditioned to look at education and intelligence as a bad thing.
Education should be looked at as a hobby, something we do for fun. Because everything we do requires some kind of education. You want to sell drugs? You’ll need to learn how many grams are in an ounce. Everything requires some kind of education, so why not learn practical skills that won’t send you to prison?
Think about it like this. You have a toolbox. You grab a hammer and drop it in. Then you grab some nails and drop them in. Next you grab a wrench and place it in the toolbox. Some bolts. A screwdriver and some screws. As I add tools to my toolbox, I further prepare myself for any repairs I may need to make. The more tools I have in my box the broader my repairing capabilities. Now apply this logic to the concept of education as a hobby. The more you learn, the more valuable you become. You’ll be able to solve a vast array of problems. The higher the value of the skills you learn… Well, you get the picture.
But for some reason this isn’t the common thread of understanding throughout the black community, at least from my experience. The prison where I’m at offers free college to anyone pursuing their bachelors degree that doesn’t have a life sentence without the possibility of parole. I’ve noticed that only about ten percent of the prisoners take advantage of this opportunity. Unfortunately, I don’t qualify because of my sentence, but I worked with one of the colleges for a while and was blessed with a partial scholarship that allowed me to take a few classes. Most of my educational pursuits have been on my own and next I plan on taking the Google digital marketing course and getting that certification. It’s on Course Era and the subscription is only $39 a month. Education is easily accessible, so why aren’t we getting educated?
The lessons my grandparents taught me as a child manifested in my adulthood. My appreciation for books and learning is a direct consequence of what they instilled in me. I think it all begins at home with the parents. It’s up to everyone who has a child to teach the future just how important education is. We can’t rely on schools to be the sole source of education either. Schools can only teach so much. It’s impossible for them to teach a person everything they’ll need to know for a successful life. Parents need to step up and fill in the blank spaces that school isn’t capable of filling.
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-Author Kevin Macklin
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