I heard a conservative politician tell a sick joke this past week. He said someone wanted to figure a way to keep Black folks down. He then said that they were given a gift to make it happen. The gift was public education. I am convinced that public education has many problems, but it is up to parents to make up the differences to try to equalize the educational experience.
It is summer and, generally speaking, parents must find something to fill the summer hours. Why not make the summer educational? There are music lessons. By that I mean an instrument. It's good for a child's self-esteem, if he/she can play an instrument and can do something others can't. It is not enough to learn how to rap. Aren't there enough of those out there?
A trip to a local music store could expose your child to a whole new world. What is a cello, a viola, an Oboe? How many notes in a scale? Why are there only eight? Can you tell an octave from octagon, if there are only eight notes in a musical scale? How fast can your child learn the scale? If they learn the scale, they can get hooked on learning more about music.
A day trip away from the television to the library can do wonders for a child's brain function. There's poetry and books on Black history, telling stories that they don't get in school, and just plain reading in general. I like to say that readers are leaders. Also don't forget about Bible stories.
In books, children can make new friends. Langston Hughes, Paul Laurence Dunbar, John Johnson, and Jackie Robinson come to mind. There are books by Presidents like John Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama. If your child knows about the great leaders of yesterday, he/she is headed for greatness. Everybody knows about Beyonce, and Jay Z, but who are the great inventors and businessmen and women of the world? Who are the African American inventors?
Then there is travel. Why not a trip to Santa Barbara, Laguna, or Kern County where the great food harvests take place? All of these are less than two hours by car, from Los Angeles. Or travel to the great wine country or Silicon Valley in Northern California. Why not a trip to one of the great museums of Civil Rights in the South, or the museum of Tolerance here in Los Angeles and the California African American Museum at the University of Southern California? See what one great experience can inspire in your child.
A trip to the theater to see a "Play" can inspire as well. The Ahmanson is currently playing "A Raisin in the Sun". For older children, the Pasadena Playhouse is featuring "Letters From Zora", by local author and Pasadena City College professor Gabrielle Pina. Check out the Lula Washington Dance Studio on Crenshaw in Los Angeles or Sue B Dance Studio in Pasadena.
There is Day Camp put on by the Scouts. When I worked for the Scouts, years ago, there was a camp for everything. I suspect it is still there. If not, why not join and become a volunteer? There's Vacation Bible Schools put on by almost every local church. Check out the churches in the Church Directory of this issue of The Journal.
There are hundreds of experiences for your child this summer that and change their outlook on life can direct their future. Start looking right now!
Don't forget, summertime has always been a time for children to earn money. Cutting lawns, washing cars, and helping out around the house always provided an opportunity to learn to work and the relationship between earning money and working. Let's train them and push them in the direction of success so they can always be prepared for life.
This summer is your opportunity. If you do your part they will make you proud.