(Black) Kids These Days

**Title Explanation: My former students tell me that one of my favorite phrases was “Kid’s these days!”. It was a catch-all phrase I used to express incredulity at whatever shenanigans they attempted to pull, excuse they gave, or funny thing they said in class. It was my version of the Hawaiian Pidgin phrase “da kine”.
We (society) need to stop feeding Black children negative messaging and then wondering why a growing segment of the Black community is in its’ current state of disarray.

Kids these days focus more on protesting the latest microagression, perceived slight, social media diss, etc. than they are on what THEY can control (ex. acquiring an education, having integrity, and defying stereotypes). Twitter battles and hashtags are not going to improve racial relations in America. There is a time for activism but I believe that the majority of Black millennials aren’t prioritizing when that activism will yield real change v. when violent protests only serve to make their detractor’s point.

The media (news and social) are constantly working to agitate and stir division with biased reporting and inflammatory rhetoric. The click bait titles on Facebook and misleading Instagram posts from reality television celebrities are mind-boggling! Unfortunately, most children are not being taught to be critical thinkers and, therefore, blindly accept and internalize false narratives about themselves and the culture at large.

This internalization leads to disenfranchisement, misplaced anger, depression, and ultimately retreat from broader society. Retreating to safe spaces or homogeneous communities robs our children of a myriad of experiences and opportunities. The recent suicide of a young Black Lives Matter activist in Ohio painfully illustrates this reality. When you are constantly being told that people hate you because of your ethnicity, that the system is stacked against you, and that the cops are out to get you, the only option left is disillusionment which can manifest itself in a variety of unhealthy ways.

We live in the greatest nation on Earth and have more opportunities than any preceding generation. A quick study of history or talking to our grandparents would highlight the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that they overcame to afford us an opportunity to achieve the proverbial American Dream. Racism does and will always exist even though some conservative commentators refuse to recognize that fact. When one appreciates the struggles and injustices all those who paved the way endured in order for us to be able to attend integrated schools, go to college, eat at restaurants, stay in hotels, and live in relative freedom of attack for simply being Black, how can we not do anything but strive to honor their sacrifice?

We have more resources and legal options at our disposal than ever before. With the push for diversity at Fortune 500 companies and leading universities, there are more avenues open to us than at any time in history. Instead of solely focusing on things we can’t control (i.e. someone else’s feeling toward us), let’s work on what we can control (i.e. the content of our character).

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