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Training the Future

December 3, 2008

Everyone’s probably heard the phrase, “the children are our future” at some point in their lives. But my question is, what are we doing about our future? If you’ve talked to any African-American person under the age of 25 lately, you might have been surprised by what you heard. Or maybe like me, you were just sad. No matter what emotions surface, we have to keep talking, and more importantly, keep listening. Case in point: I had a very interesting conversation with my 12-year old son a week or so ago. We were discussing something we’d seen on tv, and he made the comment that African-Americans seem to usually be immoral. I’m not even going to try to explain the range of emotions I went through when he said that. Suffice it to say, it took me a moment to respond. I asked him, what makes you say that? Since we were talking about tv, I thought for sure he’d say that the people he sees on shows gave him this idea. His answer was far worse. He replied that when we go out, the Blacks he sees always seem to be ‘acting up’. For instance, when we go to the library, the Blacks are always cursing, giving the library staff a hard time; the Black students at his school are always loud, they talk about rap songs with lyrics about sex and that use profanity, and they openly talk about their visits to pornographic web sites. He gave these examples for starters.

Once I heard why he said what he said, I understood what he meant. In his mind, the instances of immoral or bad behavior are associated with his own people. What could I say? Based on the examples he gave, he was right. I did comment that actually, all kinds of people ‘act up’, not just us. I tried to remind him of Ms. Spears, Ms. Lohan, the younger Ms. Spears, the Disney girls gone wild, and others. But those are not people he actually sees or interacts with every day. In a sense, they are not as real to him as the people he mentioned in his examples. Therefore, he’s put more weight on what he sees personally, than what he hears about from a distance. This encounter with my son reminded me that our kids need to see people they know and interact with ‘acting right’ for real change to take place. We need to remember that while the media has influence on their thinking and actions, it’s still on us-their parents, aunts, grandfathers, teachers, etc.-to train them in the ways they should go. They’re looking at tv, but they’re truly learning from us. If we want them to be kind, responsible, respectful of authority, and live sexually moral lives, we have to speak in caring ways, take care of their needs even when it requires sacrifice, show them what the Bible says rather than just taking them to sunday school…you get the idea. You can’t get a champion from a lazy, undisciplined, uninformed trainer.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 26, 2008 4:47 pm

    Your 12 yo sounds a lot like my 10 yo. You are so right. Showing our children is key.

    At times though, it seems that my boys would rather listen to and model what they see and hear in the ‘acting out’ culture than what they see their parents do and say.

    They’re still young and impressionable. I pray our diligence and consistency will outweigh the desire to be cool and fit in.

  2. Tierra permalink
    November 19, 2009 2:08 pm

    Wow, your son’s observations just brought tears to my eyes. I have debated with my fellow grad students many nights about how much responsibility rappers, athletes, and celebrities have, but it never dawned on me that people within our communities who interact with children on a personal level have a greater impact on them than Soldier Boy (thank God)! Now the challenge is rising to that expectation and teaching our children what’s right instead of failing to contradict the nonsense that’s out there.

  3. Melody Hanson permalink
    December 4, 2009 8:56 am

    I’m white and I am wondering how we can change our kids perceptions when the ideas on TV & media only tell our kids black men are scary and gangsters and ‘immoral’ as your son said AND when I’m out in a restaurant or library or whathaveyou what you described is happening. These are not the only “real” examples of black people but they are what gets noticed. I guess I can say if we were in the same churches, this perception would change. My nephew, who is biracial, thinks that gansta image is cool and is always playing the computer games likewise, … I’m not being very clear.

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