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The Streets: Bad Educational Tool -- Part 2 of 6

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Richard O. Jones
Low achieving youth proclaim that they’re from the streets as if that’s an excuse for failure. As if having a hard life automatically develops you into a criminal and/or a low achiever in school. One of the reasons the youth use this excuse for their antisocial behavior is because so many popular stars today claim to have had it hard. A lot of rappers, and music moguls publicly share his or her checkered past. Russell Simmons talks about his days as a teenage weed dealer, Jay-z boasts of his days as a drug dealer, and Fifty Cent is infamous for multiple gunshot wounds. Ice Tea boasts of being a pimp and the late Tu Pac rap messages glamorizes the Thug Life, even from the grave. There are too many negative celebrities to list. However, the point is that they all boast of being from the street and now they’re rich though uneducated. This sends the message that they beat the system.  The impressible youth sees this and decides that they don’t need to have good morals, an education, or a clean police record to make it.

Look at the rich celebrities on drugs and constantly going to jail and everybody loves them. In reality some of the celebrities are no better than the Africans that sold other Africans in slavery. Young people that choose the thug life are sellouts to themselves and future offspring.

The cable television channel B.E.T. (Black Entertainment Television) in reality is B.E.T. (Bad Educational Tool). B.E.T. could be a powerful tool to the education our youth but that wouldn’t be lucrative.  African American youth must be made to understand that speaking proper English, getting good grades, and being courteous is not trying to be white. To reject street life is not a rejection of your race.  B.E.T. could teach these lessons since B.E.T. is partially responsible for much of the popular culture.

B.E.T. has the power to elevate strong role models but instead blasts the airwaves with ‘Street’.  The ideology that being from the streets makes you an insensitive tough character is a myth. The welllit city streets are not as tough as living during slavery. Booker T. Washington managed to get an education.

Frederick Douglass managed. Either one of them sold bootleg whiskey or sold their people out to excel. A sellout is someone that has an opportunity to excel and move higher but selects to hang with the ‘street mentality’.

It’s much less challenging to become a teenager mother; drug dealer, gang member, school dropout, or entertainer, than become scientist or a Maxine Waters or a Vernon Jordan. Neither of these role models was born in the lap of luxury.

We must snap our youth into reality.  Being tough is a good thing. It is toughness that compels you to survive through racism, and poverty.

Doing well in school when your mama is an alcoholic and your father is in prison or unknown is tough. Finishing college when you have no financial aid and have to work two jobs is tough. Being an honest person in a den of thieves is tough. Resisting the temptation of sex until adulthood when it’s all around you is tough. That’s being from the street and surviving.


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