- Faith & Family
There’s nothing worse than listening to someone white, even with the best intentions, talk about the best way to educate “them” — the “them” being Black people. We overheard one such conversation recently that was being held among a group of City Year students on their way to work with kids at Miami Northwestern Senior High. The speaker, a white male with blond hair and blue eyes, spoke confidently about the need to use more “simple language” in the classroom and on exams so that the “kids would learn more applicable language.”
If a Black man could blush and turn beet red, it sure happened after hearing the young man’s preposterous utterance. Is this the help we are getting in our urban classrooms — volunteer educators, barely out of college themselves, who actually believe that Black kids can only learn simple concepts? In higher education they call it ‘dummying down.’ But from our vantage we call it stereotypical prejudice.
As we continue to search for more productive ways to decrease crime among our young adults and to increase the number of Black youth graduating from high school and either going to college or some trade school, we need to be on one accord. Put in simple terms, Blacks need to stand up and start being best friends to one another. More to the point, we need to stop looking to whites to make our lives more manageable, more meaningful, more livable, more equitable.
One of the Bible’s most profound phrases says simply, “You have not because you ask not.” Unfortunately, given this nation’s history, we often invite those with more privilege to come into our neighborhoods and our schools to share their top-down wisdom. They stay for a moment so they can feel good about themselves. Then they retreat to their summer homes or their lily-white gated communities.
Where are the educated, upwardly-mobile, God-fearing Blacks who have been granted so much opportunity? That’s who we need to inspire, to encourage and to enlighten those Blacks who have had a much harder road to tow. We don’t need white big brothers. We just need to stand up and start becoming best friends to those who want to succeed but lack the tools. Yes, we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.