Thursday, March 6, 2008

My Failure

F My Failure

We’ve all had our share of failures in life. Lord knows I’ve had mine. The porno letter-writing business, my Tax class in law school, the cashless ATM scheme, dating that married guy. But there’s one particular failure that I can’t seem to get out of my mind. This is a failure of a different kind. I failed my cousin.
I have a cousin. He’s bright, handsome, and sweet but unfortunately he is on his way to becoming depressingly average.
Let me explain. My cousin grew up in a working class suburb. He was surrounded by a family who loved him, he was an average student, he was part of a local band and an all-around good kid. He got into college on a band scholarship and I could not have been prouder. His mom, dad and grandmother never went to college so it was a great achievement for him to be attending a local university on scholarship.
Growing up in an area where very few black men go on to pursue higher education, I was thrilled that he seemed to be on the right path to better himself and most importantly act as an example to his two younger brothers.
But, as you probably guessed by the title of this post, things didn’t quite go as planned. In the summer before his junior year, I got the news from my mom that my cousin wasn’t going back to college. I immediately called him to ask what the deal was. He told me that he had lost his band scholarship (his story changed several times as to exactly why this happened) and he could no longer afford to attend the school. He was going to work for the next semester and save money and go back to school in the spring or the following year. Well, we all know what that means, most folks who leave college never go back and I was determined that he get his college degree. SO, I offered to pay his tuition. I didn’t care what I had to do—whether it was taking out loans or selling ass on 12th Street, I was making sure that boy graduated from college.
See, I am blessed to have come from a family where education was stressed, C’s were not acceptable and college was not optional. So I tried to convince him of the importance of him staying in school and getting his college degree. And even with my offer to pay his entire tuition… he refused. He wanted to work, and by working he could save for school and also get a car. After trying and trying to persuade him, it became clear that the desire for a car was far stronger than his desire to get his college degree.
So long story short (I know I know, too late) he ends up working at some dead end random job, he never goes back to college and now has two kids by two different women. He’s not even 24. I feel like somehow I failed him, the family failed him. I know there is nothing we could have physically done, but I cant shake the feeling that our family and community let a vibrant life full of potential slowly descend into mediocrity, and did nothing.
See, for too long we have defined failure by its extreme manifestations: ending up in jail, becoming a drug addict, being a teenage mother. But, in my opinion, when we don’t see a young person all the way through to realizing his or her potential, its just as big a failure. In our community, mediocrity, doing enough to get by, is becoming an epidemic. And that realization hit me really close to home. I wonder what will become of these young people? In a world and an economy where there is little use for the ordinary, what happens to this generation? Where are the dreamers? Who are the innovators? Where are the parents who don’t allow failure, who read to their children, who tell them in the dark of night as they put them to bed: “you can be anything you want to in this world and the possibilities for your life are endless”?
Its like our bar of standards has dropped so low that as long as someone graduates from high school, we say they’re doing fine. As long as they aren’t in the system, we say they’re doing fine. Excellence is scarce. Vision is non-existent. You have a 62 inch flat screen and your kid doesn’t have a computer in the home. We aren’t taking foreign languages, we aren’t going into technology fields.
I want to go back to the mentality of our predecessors and embrace a philosophy of goals and success and striving to be the best and reaching the highest of heights. In this global economy, we cannot afford average. This is no longer a world where you can graduate from high school, join a union and work in a factory for thirty years and still be able to raise a family. By not challenging each other to be the best in whatever we do, we are doing ourselves a disservice and more importantly we are setting our young people up to be members of a self-imposed underclass.
With access to more opportunities than ever, our young people seem perfectly content settling for less. And I cant help but think that its our fault. Have we told them that there’s more, have we shown them what more looks like? Have we reinforced in them every waking moment that they can dream big and achieve their goals through education and hard work?
I don’t know. I just felt so impotent. Me and my smart mouth were no match against “easy”, against “quick” against “right now.” I love my cousin but it hurts my soul whenever I see potential squandered. Especially when someone is handing you an opportunity on a platter. I mean, if you’re not willing to accept and opportunity when someone is GIVING it to you, what happens if you actually one day have to work for it?
I keep looking back at what I could have done, what I could have said to change his path. But how do you convince a young man to finish college when he’s been raised in a world that tells him he should be happy just getting out of high school. My voice was lost among his friends and teachers and media who told him that good enough was enough. Those who told him that passing is passing, even its with a “D.”
Now don’t get me wrong, in no way am I saying that if you aren’t wildly successful, then you have failed– the failure is in not even trying.
I love my cousin and it’s the people we love that we should be hardest on. Why do you think Im so hard on black folk? I just want us to get there and it just frustrates me when it seems the only thing standing in our way is ourselves. Sure, my cousin will be fine. But Im so sick of “fine,” I want amazing.
Meanwhile, Im gonna figure out a game plan for his little brothers right now. Wish me luck. Maybe there’s someone in your life you can start working on. Before its too late.
Peace people.

31 Responses to “My Failure”

  1. Dr. Kiti on 06 Mar 2008 at 5:32 pm #

    Don’t internalize this as your failure alone, there are very many contributing factors to this mediocrity and the mere fact that you can site other instances and the fact that mediocrity has reached near pandemic levels proves that your cousin’s problem is soo much bigger than you. I made it a point to work with our black children and be the one to tell them that they could be anything they want to be, then prove it. I challenge the children that I work with to the point that if they do not achieve, the HAVE to admit that it is because they do not wish to achieve. Then we examine that desire to remain mediocre or ‘less than’. It’s my dity to say this to children because someone said it to me and I noticed, as have you, that words of wisdom, encouragement and reinforcement are not being handed out as freely to our Black children anymore. Have things gotten so bad that we’re at the point where ‘good enough’ really is enough? Hell No! Not if we work to dispell that myth and encourage all our children, not just the Black ones, to do better.

  2. Anonymous on 06 Mar 2008 at 6:57 pm #

    God Bless You, Jam. You did this out of LOVE. We all have relatives that we love so much and want so much for them. At 24 don’t give up on him -some have go through life’s challenges and learn from their own mistakes. Thank you for writing this. You are absolutely right. A high school diploma or G.E.D. should not be someone’s highest goal of their life.

  3. quesha on 06 Mar 2008 at 9:36 pm #

    Do y’all remember a time when parents, aunties and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, were the “parents” and the kids were actually kids? I remember going to school and if I got in trouble at school, I could get paddled. Then I knew that when I got home that I would get it from my grandma and my mother. Today these kids have too much power. The government said that spanking is bad. Kids need more rights. But they are giving the power to make decisions for themselves that they are not equipped to make.

    I don’t know when mediocrity became ok. Coming up through school getting good grades was the expectation. It was not enough that I just graduated. I took pride in not getting in trouble and getting awards for excellent work. Going to college was just a natural extension of that.

    I don’t have kids, but I really don’t think that kids have changed so much as maybe the parenting has. I got snatched up real quick for acting up in public. I see some kids today acting a damn fool and I want to pop them in the mouth myself. But should we really want to pop them or their parents for allowing that behavior? And this definitely extends to the childs goals and ambitions. If a kid knows discipline and rules, he or she will have discipline in handling their business.

    If being successful is preached throughout the child’s life, going to college, getting a successful job, should just be an after-thought. But these days its not.

    I work for DeVry University as a recruiter and sometimes talking to some of these people make me sad. I find it weird that I actually have to convince these people that going to college is the way to change their standard of living. I try to motivate folks. I try to be a cheerleader. And I have to be a “mom” sometimes to these kids. But sometimes it just doesn’t work. Some people are not interested in excelling and talking to these people everyday can be a drag.

    So to the parents, aunties and uncles, big sisters and brothers, older cousins, grandparents, people of the community, encourage these kids early. Because by the time they are 20 years old, its too late. I know first hand.

  4. Jefferson Sergeant on 07 Mar 2008 at 4:52 am #

    For those of us that are in our early thirties I believe it gives us the best perspective to view this rise in mediocrity.

    Growing up in the 80′s and 90′s we are old enough to have that link to the last vestiges of the civil rights movement where the transformative power of education was constantly expressed to us. In addition,the nature of popular media at the time was filled with images of Black youth in college, most notably A Different World and School Daze.

    The rise in mediocrity I believe started in the mid-nineties where several negative realities started to coalesce.

    The first, is the rise in the number of teenage mothers. In many instances these parents don’t finish school and find it easier to diminish the value of education. This attitude is then transfered to their children. Second, is the devaluing of teachers. For almost 2 decades we are living in a society where teachers have to walk on eggshells around their students. This reality diminishes their ability to teach, discipline and ultimately demonstrate the importance of education through their profession. Teachers are the only professionals that kids are exposed to for several hours for the majority of the year. If they are underappreciated and underpaid what does that indicate about the true value of education? Lastly, Political correctnes. This relates not only to education but in other arenas as well kids are rarely exposed to actual achievement and failure. Everyone despite their performance gets a cookie, trophy or prize of some sort. This gives the wrong impression about how life truly works. Performance is important and achievement in the best of circumstances should be related to effort. When children have been taught that everyone is the same and we are all winners; why wouldn’t they expect that to be the standard for life as an adult?

  5. Stacey on 07 Mar 2008 at 7:06 pm #

    I totally understand what you are saying but I also know that a person has to have an internal motivation and drive to want more. Once you have that you will do whatever it takes to achieve your goals. Is it possible that he got tired of school and just wasn’t in to it like you thought, that he probably never wanted to go but since he got that scholarship he felt he had to? I don’t know, I mean someone says I will pay for you to go and your thinking about a car, seems like his priorities are lacking. Fault lies with society and family but ultimately self. He is old enough to take control of his life and education and I tell my niece and the little boy I tutor this all the time, its your life that is effected when you don’t take your education seriously and do the things you need to do that will make it better. My niece is college bound and I will be on her like white on rice, lol, just as I am now. But it’s still her responsibility to do the work; I can’t do it for her. She still has to have self-motivation, drive and desire to be and do better.

    The little boy I tutor is bright, his mother does not accept failing but he still decides I don’t want to do my homework. I talk ‘til I am blue in the face, and Im pretty brown so that’s hard, lol, but sometimes it’s as if he has checked out. We talk about his dreams and goals and his mother as well as I let him know that yes he can do it, whatever he wants he can do it. So he knows it, but I often wonder how much he believes it. I think that maybe where the problem lies, lack of belief. You are being told the skies the limit, but there are so few examples that you don’t always believe it. Wow! Pretty sad.

    As a young girl I remembered thinking I want to do this and that and whatever, I found out what I had to do to reach that goal and did just that. I never liked mediocrity then and I don’t like it now. If I didn’t understand something I would break my neck to understand even if that meant not watching TV or going outside. I was called white because I spoke properly but guess what; a lot of those same people are just working. I have a career. I encourage my nieces, nephews, and cousins, all kids that I meet and I am hoping they can see that there is more.

    I really enjoy this blog and I hope that you realize that it is not your fault and that even if not now, later, your words will resonate with him and he will do better. Um, excuse me, AMAZING!

  6. Valentine on 09 Mar 2008 at 1:13 am #

    You know, college is not for everyone. Many people become “SUCCESSFUL” in life without it. Your cousin may not want to share with you the reason he lost his scholarship, because maybe at the time it was just too much for him. Maybe, just maybe, he did try his best and just couldn’t make it work at that time. If its for him, he will return, if not, may he be blessed with a very good and happy life.

  7. jamdonaldson on 09 Mar 2008 at 2:21 am #

    I have to slightly disagree with you. At 20, when you come from meager means, and someone offers to pay for your education so you can graduate from college, i just dont believe you have the option to say “college is not for me.” In this day and age, I look at the world in which we live and I would be doing him a disservice if i didnt try to get him to finish school. I say, get your degree, and THEN go off on some “finding yourself” shit. We must give our young people the tools to excel. And of course you dont need a college degree to be successful, but it definitely increases the odds. Why make the journey harder? I hope he has a happy and blessed life too but he only makes it more difficult for himself when his starting point for his adulthood is no college degree and two kids. I want the best for him. The younger generation is supposed to do better than us but at this rate… im really worried.

  8. Lifestyle Writer on 10 Mar 2008 at 12:10 am #

    I agree that college isn’t for everyone; but if college isn’t for you then we need to teach young people how to self educate themselves because we live in a capitalistic system where the ability to know how to make/earn money is a must. We must ask our young people: “What are your gifts and talents?” “What makes you happy?” “What do you see yourself doing with your life?

    Now I say this because I was initially outraged that my nineteen year old sister didn’t want to go to college. She wanted to do hair. Well…with proper guidance my sister has taken a few business classes and is working on her dream of owning her own salon/becoming a stylist for the stars. It’s her passion and she’ll work hard to manifest it.

    There’s no way around it. If you won’t go to college then I say become an entrepreneur and learn how to sell. There are plenty of successful business owners who’ve never even step foot in a college and are making money hand over fist. The examples are countless. Jay-Z and Diddy are examples of people who said “dam that” to traditional means of come uppence.

    I value education; I really do. But sometimes education can take the risk-taker out of you because you’re trying so hard to walk the straight and narrow. Especially if you’ve got school loans to pay back. Now you’ve got little room for creativity when you’ve got creditors breathing down your back.

    But as Black People we must learn how to think out of the box of the Middle Class Upper-class syndrome. Cause there are a myriad of ways to define success. I suggest reading such as “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and “Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice”. Because we all know plenty of college educated folks who fail miserably at capitalism; including mahself (he he!) and I have a Master’s Degree.

  9. Anonymous on 11 Mar 2008 at 5:26 am #

    jamrock, i feel you. sometimes people do not understand kindness or KNOW how hard life will be and they think having material items is what is going to get them ahead. i heard it a million times kids do not want to go to college, they want to work and get a car. at the end of the day, you made the offer and you should be at peace. its not your fault he cant see the forrest for the trees.
    do not b suprised if his siblings have the same loser mentality.

    i offered to pay for ACT classes for my niece, she would rather work at mcdonalds. i pleaded with her and her my sister, no dice. i guess that mickey d’s check was more important than getting a good ACT score. people just do not understand that education is important. so say a detailed prayer for him and know that God takes care of fools and babies.

  10. camille43 on 11 Mar 2008 at 4:32 pm #

    jam dont be too hard on yourself. You went over and beyond the call of duty on this one. You have done more than your part. If you oferred to pay for his education then that means that his parents either would not or could not do the same. Either way you have nothing to feel bad about. I know you love him and are worried about him, but as the saying goes, you can only lead a horse to water, but you cant make him drink.

    There is no question that all young people need to expand their education beyond high school. But as lifestyle writer states “we must learn to think out of the box”. College is not for everyone, but I would like to add to that and say that a traditional 4 year college is not for everyone. But, it is my opinion that some type of education beyond high school should be on everyones agenda. Its not enough to just get of high school and get a job. You must prepare yourself for the job market by getting more skills.

    I belong to a civic organization that not only gives away a scholarship to a local HBCU, but next year we will also be giving away a scholarship to a 2 year community college. Everyone cant go to a 4 year institution. Finances or life circumstances may make it difficult. But even if one chooses a 2 year community college or trade school, that to me still says that they want to try and have a better life for themselves. Many people have lucrative careers with Associate Degrees. Depending on the field, they sometimes do better than those from traditional college settings. They can enter the job market quicker and get that job experience needed to take them to the next step. Later if they decide to go to a traditional 4 year college, they may be able to assist in paying for their own tuition because they will be working and earning their own money. We have to expand our definition of what we think “education” means. That is why we decided to help a student who chooses that path as well.

    I commend lifestyle writers sister because she is actually taking classes to learn how to start a business and plans to do just that. That to me says she is expanding her education in some way.

    We also have to reprogram our young people about the purpose of education. Too often they want what they see in the images in music videos and popular culture. They see the riches that celebrities and others have obtained without going to college. They dont see education as the path to being rich or having nice things. They may even see it as being a delay in their plans to get paid. Its the “why go to school when I can get paid now?” mentality.
    But what I try to tell young people is that education is not necessarily meant to make you rich. But it WILL increase your relm of choices in life. More education and skills means more career choices and better pay. Better pay means being able to have the things you need and some of the things you want. You may not ever be rich by getting additional education, but you will have a greater chance of having a better quality of life. Having a high school diploma with no extra skills drastically limits your choices. You will set yourself up for only being able to choose mimimum wage jobs for most of your life.

    Maybe talk to your nephew and see if there is something else he can do that can increase his marketable skills. Does he have a passion that can be translated into some type of income? Maybe he can be encouraged to pursue those skills and make a better life for himself. Maybe the fact that he has two kids makes him want to work and make all the money he can right now because I am sure child support payments are critical right now. But maybe he can be convinced that every extra skill he can obtain will put him in a better financial position to care for his kids in the future.

  11. camille43 on 11 Mar 2008 at 4:51 pm #

    i am sorry jam, i meant to say “cousin” not “nephew” in my above comment.

  12. Highrespectable on 14 Mar 2008 at 9:00 am #

    This is absolutely interesting!

  13. Anonymous on 15 Mar 2008 at 9:53 pm #

    Very interesting. A story that raises as many questions as it answers. I’ve just dipped back to college at the age of 42 to improve my French. I’d forgotten after more than 10 years working as an independent professional just how awful it can be in school, sitting in the same room with young people who are consciously or unconsciously hostile to each other, being ranted at by a teacher in a more or less interesting manner. It can truly suck. Check out Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society for a theoretical counterblast.

    And I don’t blame him for wanting a car in the US. If you build cities with no sidewalks and poor public transport, who can blame him?

    Biologically humans are at their peak fertility in their early to mid-twenties. Two children at his age is only natural.

    I think you’re too hard on the man, overvalue liberal education, and are blaming an individual for your society’s problems. I wish him well in his future life as the underdog in the land of the “free.”

  14. Anonymous on 16 Mar 2008 at 9:23 am #

    aaahhh families! Hey JamJam it’s ME!! You know I feel your pain. But dealing with family and their individual issues is always a tough call. Everyone in my family wanted to intervene after my cousin had her 2nd child followed by her 4th…and now 7th. It’s tough to talk sense into people if they’re not willing to listen. It’s even more heartbreaking when you make all sorts of financial offerings to help them go to school…only to not be asked, but, be TOLD to mind your own business. AND…coming from a super large family where not many of my aunts and uncles went to college, including my own folks, but MOST of the grandkids did go on to complete higher education, it’s ABSOLUTELY gut wrenching to see someone in your family slip through the cracks of the family safety net

    I do not know what is the solution. But, I think we make a grave mistake by saying “college isn’t for everyone”!!! What aspect of college are we referring to when we say that??? Is it the dormitory life? Is it the “I’m too far away from home” part that gets at us? Let’s face it, high school isn’t for everyone yet we manage to get through it. For me, college was, in many ways, an extension of high school. I had VERY conservative caregivers that did not support my participation in the social aspect of college…nonetheless I survived. People move at their own pace. We don’t always do things in a sequential order (high school, college, work). Some often go straight into the work force after high school and squeeze in college along the way. Is it the easiest path? Absolutely not! Continue to support your cousin…you did not fail him…your family did not fail him… and he is not a failure. He’s just gotten off track. In the end we pray and hope that he finds his way. It may not happen at age 24 but it my happen at 34 or even 44. Maybe you can help him get back on track by getting him to write down his goals. Knowing where you want to be in life is half the battle. The rest is self-driven determination and confidence. From what I gather from your description, he should have 2-3 semesters left to complete his degree. Help him create an action plan. Hopefully he’ll let you do that.

  15. nik on 19 Mar 2008 at 5:52 pm #

    I feel the same as you do, however I’ve not figure out how to make someone see what you see. I’m working on a few people in my life right now, but don’t think I’m getting through to them. But am still thriving for greatness myself so hopefully that will make the difference.

  16. Valentine on 20 Mar 2008 at 3:05 am #

    On another note, how often do you update this site?

  17. Anonymous on 24 Mar 2008 at 12:17 am #

    Jam, it could be that he flunked out and was too ashamed to tell you. Money wouldn’t have mattered in that case.

  18. Anonymous on 02 Apr 2008 at 6:18 am #

    How is your cousin’s life your failure when you offered him options and he chose his own path? There is a fine line between wanting to be a positive influence and wanting to control another adult’s life. Sometimes it is not about you.

    Take comfort in knowing that his story is not over yet. And sometimes our greatest successes are a result of our failures. In the words of Donnie McClurkin, a saint is just a sinner who fell down and got up.

  19. missrook on 10 Apr 2008 at 3:01 am #

    Just passing really hit it on the head. Nice blog.

  20. sugaHoney on 10 Apr 2008 at 6:10 am #

    I definitely dislike the mediocrity that permeates our communities, but I dont think any of it is new. I actually think there is less of it, then say, when my mother was making her way through college.

    I liked your point of view but I think it is disturbing that you would consider your cousin a failure and he is only 24. There are tons of people who go back to school after that age. He is still very young. I have a cousin who was a teen mother, wandering the streets with no goals, but at the age of 33, she earned her bachelors degree and since then, has earned 2 more degrees, owns a home, and has a very successful career. Someone like you would have called her a failure at 24.
    I kind of think you are jumping the gun with your assessment of him, but who am I, but a reader of ur blog? lol
    I do wish more people would go to college. They just dont understand how much easier it is to struggle through four years without a car or money or whatever they think they need, than to go out working at 17 or 18, with no clear plan. I do however, believe that some people aren’t meant for college, but they should still have a goal, and a plan designed to help them reach that goal.

  21. jamdonaldson on 10 Apr 2008 at 2:35 pm #

    Just to clarify, I never called my cousin a failure. The failure i was referring to was my inability to use my experiences influence his decisions, which I feel resulted in making some bad choices. I was the failuer, not my cousin. I believe everyone can rebound and excel, i just would have preferred him to start out ahead of the game instead of trying to play catch up. But I still definitely believe in his ability to shine.

  22. Anonymous on 24 Apr 2008 at 8:17 pm #

    All I can say is Damn!!!! This has to be the realest conmmentary I have ever read and we need more tales of reality instead of stories of lost potential.

    One of the best bogs out here bar none!!!!!!!

  23. Dannah on 28 Apr 2008 at 9:07 pm #

    24 is so young. Don’t give up on him yet, but you can’t control it. I am an alcoholic, recovered, and it KILLS me when I see my teenage brother and sister drinking when I know it’s so prominent in our family. What can I do though? They don’t care about what I’ve been through, or want to hear it!

    He may do well yet. And, college is ideal, but not necessary for financial success. There is plenty of opportunity, especially in technology. My husband does very well in the computer field with no degree. Just an example.

  24. Anonymous on 01 May 2008 at 10:33 pm #

    I think having the two kids was a huge mistake. But maybe in the other areas he just needs to find what he is good at and then apply himself to that. What if his skill is not in a book or with a musical insturment (you said he had a band scholarship). What if he’s a skilled carpenter or electrician or like the one poster’s husband, gifted in computers or some non-traditional think like video game design.

    Remember a lot of white folks, Mexicans (and some of us black folks still) make better livings as contractors than someone with a masters degree. Not only that, they are they’re own boss and can employee others.

    As black people we sometimes get too hung up on the profession thing (doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief, what have you). So if a kid has other interests I think they are too affraid to say anything and find no support or direction in how to turn those skills into a worthwhile living.

    So rather than force him back to the path to success you envisioned him on. Find out what he likes and explore with him ways to maximize that with a better education and training.

  25. Samantha S. on 19 May 2008 at 9:28 am #

    Excuse my language…but that was inspiring as SHIT! I am a fourth yr Business Administration student @ FAMU…im SOO ready to graduate…i feel so close yet so far…and that made me want to really give my all this last yr that I have left. I’m actually thinking of going to Law School after I graduate…I WOULD LOVEEEE to have a convo via AIM (or something of the sort) with you if possible…..

    PS: LUV the writing!
    My aim=babyphattkat1
    (sooo not professional…but ive had it for years…dont judge me =/ )

    -Samantha S

  26. Anonymous on 30 May 2008 at 5:04 pm #

    When I came to college, I had no idea how I was going to pay for it. I ended up with 4 scholarships by the end, but that’s beside the point. If you go to school broke and stupid as hell, it’s easier to get a loan now than at any other time! I have horrible credit, but I got a $7,000 loan, and I just had to have my mom sign for it. I don’t understand how this is your failure and not his. He just didn’t want to go back, that’s all. He wanted a car, because that’s what’s important to him. It’s not you fault, he’s just a loser, and he only wanted to be hood-rich.

  27. Anonymous on 14 Jun 2008 at 4:07 am #

    I’m a white dude who stumbled onto this blog somehow. Incredible! We white folk are also in the same boat to a certain extent. In fact, this generation as a whole is the first one that is predicted to be worse off than the generation before. Playing the victim and accepting mediocrity in ourselves is where it starts.

  28. James on 15 Jun 2008 at 4:04 am #

    To each their own. Be careful of placing your version of succes on others. As a young man education was not a succes to me, because it was far to easy, but in not following in the foot steps of my alchoholic and herion addicted parents. In that realm I’m extremely successful.
    The problem in our educational system is that it strives for mediocrity. Push the majority of students through is it’s success. Higher education has become anything but higher.
    The truth is all people are not created equally. If one truly wants a higher education it must be done alone regardless of the attending of any particular school. A person must have a strong will and strive with uncommon energy to escape from a virtual prison. They must know that all oppression is self oppression. Like a great writer who breaks all the petty rules of writing to convey his/her message. A teacher would say, well you must know the rules before you can break them. Bullshit. Those who create make their own rules and all others are simply obstacles to leap over.
    Beware of institutional education. It is the path to mediocrity,with its multiple choice testing, handing out of diplomas that convey nothing of what was learned only briefly memorized. Much as the Judeo-Christian-Muslim religion has lead the all to many by dragging the higher down to the level of the lower. Those who find true success go beyond that.
    Your struggle goes much deeper then you have yet to imagine. The truth that nobody wants to admit is the vast majority of people are mediocre and intellectually inept. They have been domesticated that way. Only a few know this and you will not find it in an institution. Thats why physicians only practice medicine instead of cure. They still can’t cure themselves.
    But what do I know? I’m only a poor white, junior college dropout who you might find to have wasted potential. But I will say this; my book isn’t fully written yet, litterally, and neither is your cousins.
    If you want to help your younger cousin show him the virtual prison he is, and can, be in. Help instil a work ethic to go above and beyond petty expectations. Give up the notion of wanting to paid by others and pay himself. If he learns this he will not know how to fail.
    I appreciate your concern for those in my life I can help, but I must go beyong that. Everyone is in my life and perhaps my future book will prove I’ve bitten off more than I can chew; but the failure, as you said, is in not trying. I would wish you and your family good luck, but that would be a detriment to sell you short, so I say may you work hard and well.

  29. Nista206 on 17 Jun 2008 at 3:29 pm #

    I love your title!! I have to correct people all the time about using conversate!

    I agree w/ you in regards to black-owned establishments. However, running lounges, clubs, & things of that sort are extremely expensive. My dad was interested in opening a club here in Houston, but decided against it after comparing the expenses to profit. So, it’s not as easy as you think. But, I’ll keep my fingers crossed w/ you on the progression of our people.

  30. Anonymous on 17 Jun 2008 at 5:34 pm #

    hey, im a white dude too who stumbled upon this. great stuff! you preach personal responsibility, striving for goals and self respect…these virtues are color blind. Its everywhere, prevalanet across all races and between gender; settling for less and striving for what “others” convey is “cool.” What happened to being stoked to be alive and reaching for something because we are all incredible organisms capable of fantastic things!?

    if you believe you can achieve.

    if it is to be it is up to me

    if you want something, you better pick yourself up and go for it, because believe me, the calvary ain’t comin.

    you words are very reminiscent of Cosby and Chris Gardner.

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