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The Streets: Only the Lost Survive -- 4 of 6 parts

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Richard O. Jones
Good self-esteem is essential for the healthy mental growth. Most of the youth who aspire to be gangsters, and other antisocial pursuits haven’t been given a healthy diet of good self-esteem. Unfortunately, too many parents are without parenting skills. Parenting skills are mostly passed along from one generation to the next. If a youth comes from a substandard environment, it is unlikely that they will automatically have good parenting skills. Most young single parents still want to party regularly, which includes getting high, being promiscuous and staying out late.  It’s an insult to a young inexperienced parent to suggest that they could benefit from parenting classes.  Therefore, the avalanche of children raising children continues to plummet down hill.

The youth refer to ‘The Street’ as a badge of honor tantamount to a Masters Degree from a prestigious university. It used to be an inner city thing, now however, youth in the country claim to have been brought up on ‘The Street’. I have a nephew that finished high school approximately ten years ago. He recently got into an argument with one of his younger cousins who’s in her last year of law school. The argument had nothing to do with education, it was a dispute over the price of a used washing machine and dryer that he offered to sell for one price then raised the price on the pick up day. The younger cousin argued that he must stick to the agreed price but he became belligerent claiming that she was ignorant because she was using ‘school sense’ but he was using ‘street sense’. And on the ‘street’ where he claimed to have been raised, such tactics are acceptable.

The term ‘hustling’ is ambiguous. It can be used to mean hard working. Or it can be used to refer to a smalltime crook. A person could be considered a hustler when he worked a fulltime job, went to school or had a part time job, plus operated his own small business on the side. This was also a hustler, not necessarily a criminal. The term from ‘the street’ is also misused by African American youth. In many foreign countries such as Mexico, Brazil and India there are real ‘street’ children in real ghettoes.  These street youth are homeless.  They eat straps from the dumpsters behind restaurants and panhandle pedestrians and tourists.  Our youth call themselves being from ‘the street’ because they choose being thugs and drug dealers versus securing an education and/or an experience compatible job.

African American youth make a foolish but willful decision to decline the free educational opportunities available, which will lead to a high paying profession. The ‘street’ they boast about is a game losers play when they fear the challenge in the real world of working for what you get.

As a reward for their life as a street kid all they have to look forward to is ultimately a low wage job because they failed to go forward in school when the light of opportunity was green. There’s a red light ahead for the so-called street youth.

We as mature adults must organize to teach the truth. Some of the celebrities we applaud are equal to

the Africans that sold other Africans into slavery. We must teach our youth not to be blinded by the lure of ill-gotten wealth. Any concerned mature adult can become a mentor to a youth. It doesn’t take money, just compassion.

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