When we think of Black History Month, we generally think of a month to review the achievements and contributions of Blacks from the past. It seems to me that it can be a time to make some history that makes sense. Lots of events make history, but often they don't make sense. Clarence Thomas made history by filling Thurgood Marshall's seat on the Supreme Court,
but he makes no sense as he tries to undo all the achievements of Marshall. The Rappers have made history with their musical style, but they make no sense with the misogynistic, vulgar and self hating language that they are best known for. And now they are known for vulgar dress styles to go along with their vulgar lyrics. They are described in the words of a song by General Larry Platt, which says, "Pants on the ground, pants on the ground, lookin' like a fool with your pants on the ground."
This year I suggest a new tradition for Black History Month. I suggest that Black trade and professional groups adopt a group of youth to become group mentors or Big Brothers and/or Big Sisters to. Take your group to lunch to your workplace or any place that could serve to inspire young people to become what you are, i.e., carpenter, teacher, nurse, doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, or whatever. We must remember that what they see is what they will be. Let them see something other than Snoop Dog and other rappers, cursing our women and our people, to a beat. Maybe they can learn to swing a hammer or a pair of barber/or beauty clippers, to a beat.
Many Black youth never dream of becoming pharmacists, architects, lawyers, police officers, or realtors because they are never exposed to them as career possibilities. With mentoring or Big Brother/Sister programs that provide interaction with trades or professional persons, we can turn the tide that makes kids think they must become Rappers or Basketball players.
Black History month is a perfect time to create such programs because it is a teaching month filled with teachable moments, but without much action. We are watching the world taking the Haitian children in for a better life. Why can't we take in a kid from our own neighborhood for life. Surely a kid whose life is affected by the close proximity to crime, or sexual abuse, and never seeing a parent get up early to go to work needs some other realities to pattern his/her life after. Why not you?
If this type of project is adopted by a group it becomes a kind of "Academy without Walls" that can, in fact, become an alternative to the often negative impact of the streets.
This year, follow the pattern of the history makers. Find a need and do something to make a difference in someone else's life, and make history that makes sense. After all, it is what you do for others that counts!