Young men. Young men. Young men. Our black young men. Can you speak up? Will you speak up? Why won’t you
speak up? We need you to speak up. Speak up and speak out. I understand that the hip hop world, the rap world, the music world, and the athletic world are knocking down the door. The get-rich-or- die- trying world isn’t far behind. The different woman in your bed every night world appeals to you greatly. The shiny rims world, the tatted up world, the gettin’ high world, the felony world, the poor planning world are all knocking down your doors.
Young men? Why get caught up in that world/those worlds--the world that takes you away from the community, the world that
distracts you from your amazing purposes, the world that stifles your/our growth and progression, the world that says you are nothing more than what society deems you to be, the world that locks you in and tells you who you are, the world that categorizes you and conditions you into thinking that “baby mamas” are cool, that selling drugs is the way, that owning an illegal firearm is a necessity? This world is catching you by surprise and catching you in a whirlwind of false hopes and false
promises. It is happening so quickly that you can even process what is going on. This world is killing you. These worlds are depleting you. Can you not see? The diamonds are cubic zirconium, the gold is not 14, 12, or 10 kt, but rather gold-plated, the weed is laced, the rims are fake, the cars are leased, and the women are searching for themselves just as you are.
Wake up! Wake up and stop regulating your lives to outside influences that do not mean well. Wake up and be proactive about your futures. Stand up and stop allowing the excuses of yesterdays to determine your tomorrows.
Young men, you are descendants and living testaments of the resilience, perseverance, and tenacity that our ancestors passed down to us. Living haphazardly, as you are, on such a large scale would make their sacrifices and hardships for naught if you all do not WAKE UP! You are more than your clothes, your car, your rims, your prowess. You are more than that.
“You know what I’m sayin’,” “Ya dig,” and “Fa sho” are not acceptable standards in English when attempting to navigate in America. Using those phrases in mixed company perpetuates negativity and the ignorant justification of acting entitled by those who categorize and stereotype you. Using the public language does not mean that you are “talking white.” It means that you understand and have a command of the English language so that you can network, navigate business deals, and earn that college degree and training. Understanding public language expands your opportunity base, rather than limits and confines you the way private language does. When did it become okay to sound ignorant? That does not add to your cool factor, player card, or homie quotient. I promise it does not. Think about this: Our ancestors, who thrived in Africa before they were brought to America as slaves, were so intelligently creative that they had to navigate learning a new language and not only did they learn the language, but they also modified it so that they could speak in code to help others to freedom and to relay messages. So they had the public and the private language, but remember they mastered the public first. Be wise.
As an educator, I tell my students to master English and grammar, so that after mastering it, they can use it to be creative. Our voice is nurtured by our ability to write and intelligently express ourselves. Confining yourself to private language keeps you mentally bound and as free walking advertisements, who unbeknownst to themselves are puppets that perpetuate cycles of ignorance that keep our communities from thriving and progressing.
Walk out of that stupor that keeps you immobile and essentially keeps us from moving forward as an impactful force. Walk out of the stupor that celebrates having children to and fro. Walk out of the stupor that keeps you confined to a minor space. Walk out of the stupor that keeps you working and only focusing on “souping” up a car. Walk out of stupor that keeps you spending
money on items that depreciate. Walk out of the stupor that fuels the negativity. Walk out of the stupor, step up, and use your intelligence and brilliance to incite change, to impact change, and to promote change. Young black men you are at the vanguard of the community. We need you to band together constructively to stop the cycle of ignorance that is breeding incarceration, single-parent homes, poverty, poor medical care, dangerous neighborhoods, poor health conditions, and the like.
Walk out, step up, and speak up!
That's my twenty-nine cents. Blessings!