Poverty never held Black folks back.
From slavery up until, oh say, Bush’s first “placement” into office (can’t all it an election because that sucker was bought), our people knew that education was our salvation. Hell, we were killed for wanting to have the ability to read and, despite that real threat, the slave parents did whatever they could to educate the next generation so that they wouldn’t have to suffer what they went through, so that they could rise (to quote sister Maya Angelou).
And so we did. Each generation did better than the previous one (Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power movement, the rise of the Black Middle Class). All of this came about because we, as Black Folk valued education and fought for it.
Then what happened? We forgot. We saw cats getting over from the ‘hood via sports, via Hip Hop, etc. Now I’m not knocking those elements (indeed, those cats had that same value system, that same desire to achieve and that’s why they achieved greatness).
But, once we thought we had “arrived,” a group of us got lazy and fell into the trap of “entitlement” (which the country, in general, fell into). It became all about the “Benjamins,” all about flossing and surface with no substance to support the flash and razzle-dazzle. It became more about looking fly than being fly.
Coupled with the dissolution of funding for programs like art and music (which are crucial to a holistic education because those programs promote critical thinking), the rise of Bullshit programs like “No Child Left Behind,” which are more concerned about standardized test scores rather than true education and the growing apathy of parents not truly being involved in their children’s education (i.e. not attending Parent/Teacher conferences, a growing litigious culture pitting Parent against Teacher, teenage single mothers, the Industrial Prison Complex fueled by “The War on Drugs,” etc.), THIS has led us to the state we’re in now.
The fault lies within ourselves, but so does our salvation. We cannot be complacent anymore. We cannot throw up our hands and give our power away. We can’t just sit around and complain. We have to stand up, man up, woman up and grow up. We’ve got to roll up our sleeves and make this shit right. We’ve gotta go old school because that’s what is was… school.
Nobody else is gonna do it for us, so we need to do it for ourselves.
We did it before. We need to do it now.