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Are Sports & Music the Only Options for Black Children?
Thoughts from the Publisher -
Yaba Baker



Whenever I go to speak at an elementary school, I ask the children what they want to be and without fail the majority of the children want to be singers, rappers, and athletes. The same consistent response from Black children from all over the country began to disturb me on many levels. My concerns were validated by a recent study by Northeastern's Center for the Study of Sport in Society. The study found that 66 percent of African American males between the ages of 13 and 16 believed they could earn a living playing professional sports, more than double the percentage of white males. The reality is there is a 0.0001% chance a high school athlete will play a pro sport and a 0.00002% chance of playing in the NBA. Our Black children are being set-up to fail.

The real question is why are the majority of our children focusing on singing, rapping, and athletics as the only path to success? To answer that question we must look at what the entertainment industry and pro athletics represent to our children. Both choices represent success, money, and power in the minds of children. The only role models who are consistently shown to our children on a daily basis that represent achievement, wealth, and clout are entertainers and athletes. A child looking for ways to rise from poverty or to have an impact on society would see sports and music as their only options based on the over powering emphasis placed on athletes and entertainers. Our children see their successes daily on BET or ESPN. They try to duplicate the only consistent African American role models portrayed in the media. As a community, we have done a poor job of teaching our children that there are many ways to be powerful, to have money and be successful.

Our children very rarely, if ever, hear about Gregory Jackson (featured in last month's newsletter), a man who runs a billion dollar car dealership or Don Barden, the first African American to own a casino in Las Vegas. Mr. Barden's company brings in $372 million dollars a year. Dr. Ben Carson (brain surgeon) is another pioneer. He is the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Carson was born in Detroit, Michigan where his childhood journey was filled with poverty. He struggled with poor grades and a violent temper. After his mother, who only had a third-grade education, challenged him to strive for excellence, Ben rose from the bottom to the top of his class. His achievements earned him academic scholarships to college and medical school. Dr. Carson's story could be used to motivate many young Black people suffering from similar issues of poor grades and violent tempers.

If we want our children to do more than play the lottery of pro sports and music, we must work to provide them with new role models that represent many different types of success. As African Americans we have no shortage of successful people in all walks of life (see the quick links section). As a community and as individuals, we have to do a better job of providing our children with a variety of role models. To my teachers and parents, please take the time to give Black History Month a new energy by giving our children many different examples of successful African Americans. Don't fall back on the same five or six Black History figures children see every year. If we allow this trend of idolizing rappers, athletes, and singers to continue we will have millions of children with failed dreams and no real education or plan to fall back on. If that time does come, the ugly truth will be, that we will only have ourselves to blame.
 
 BLACK by NATURE, PROUD by CHOICE.
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good points.. I think about this a good amount as well. I speak to black Youth a good amount and run a Computer Learning Program for 5 months for these same Youth. I try and emphasize that there are other fields available to us other than these long shot type careers such as sports\entertainment.. I go as so far to tell the students how much I make, etc so that they can understand.

I think the key is that our Youth have to be patient.. They want that big paycheck without waiting..
I'm just going to make this comment. Whatever our youth want to do that is positive, we should support them 100%. That's my issue with this subject matter. The point seems to have more to do with exposing our children to other things than sports or music, but there is nothing wrong with either activity.
By the way, I have one child who wants to be a professional soccer player and another who wants to be an entrepreneur and the other's manager. Smile
Until we as a people create avenues for our youth, such as business, educational institutions and apprentiship programs, the cliche of sports and entertainment will always be around. I mean why do we expect white people to give our children opportunities the can give their own. Why would they want their children competeing with our children for jobs they created. This is a crucial area we need to examine. If we do not creat jobs and opportunities for our youth and the people of our communities no one else will, especially with outsourcing and the cutting back of jobs
Found it, it was a thread entitled Athletes and Entertainers thats who!

One should not attempt to explore why Black youth seek success in entertainment or athletics without first exploring the availability of role models in these particular professions versus the availability of role models in professions other than these professions. It is easy to say Black youth want to be entertainers and athletes and not a surgeon, architect or journalist, because it's the truth. The hard thing to do is explain why such is the case.

Human beings are social creatures we learn from one another and imitate one another in thought and behavior. We imitate those who surround us first and those we see or come in contact with secondly. How many Black youths that want to be an entertainer or athlete are surrounded by journalist, architects and surgeons, how many of them can name one Black surgeon, one Black architect or one Black Journalist. How many of them know what a journalist does how many of them know what an architect and a surgeon does? How many of them know there are different kinds of Surgeons, Journalist and Architects? Now, compare that to their knowledge of what their favorite athlete or entertainer does and how they came to know that?

Having just lived through another Holiday Season can you tell me if the National Association of Black Journalist, Black Surgeons or Black Architects had a toy drive in their city? Did a group of Black Journalist, Black Surgeons or Black Architects hand out food on thanksgiving? How many Black Journalist, Black Surgeons and Black Architects give out down payments on homes to single Black mothers?

While much criticism is thrown at entertainers and athletes for having pimped out rides, the latest and greatest cell phone device and showing the world their crib on MTV, we also know that they are not the only men and women to have these things, but yet they are the driving force behind the poor trying to acquire these things. I have been to my son's pediatrician house and it will put to shame some of the houses I have seen on MTV cribs, I have been to the home of the V.P of Marketing for the company I am currently employed with and her home is an estate that too will put to shame some of the homes I have seen on MTV Cribs, and both of them have pimped out rides, with the latest GPS system and neither of them leaves home without their Black Berry in toe. For all intents and purposes their lifestyle is no different than most entertainers and athletes except they earn their money differently. The key in understanding why Black youth do not seek to be a Pediatrician or the V.P. of marketing starts with exploring their access to these kinds of men and women.

You see Black youth don't want to be any entertainer, or any athlete, they want to be like their favorite "BLACK" entertainer and athlete, why you ask? The answer is simple, they see themselves in those entertainers and athletes, and make the logical conclusion that they are like that entertainer and athlete and is capable of doing what he or she does thus they seek to do that. If they were bombarded with images of Black professionals Blue or white collar and the rewards of those professions as much as they are bombarded with images of Black folk being entertainers and athletes, they would seek to do those things.

We live in the "show me" times; children want to see the reward for hard work before they pursue a career in that work and who show them the rewards of the work they do more often than anyone in any profession? Athletes and Entertainers that's who.
I'm not sure I see a problem with this. The problem as I see it is that schools and parents need to make sure they're preparing the kids for the world, regardless of what their dream profession is.

If twice the proportion of black kids want to be athletes or entertainers as the proportion of white kids, and it turns out that there is double the proportion of successful black athletes and entertainers, then I see no disparity problem. The problem that exists lies in society's options for black young men once they reach the point where they can't become ballplayers or rappers. Until then, all this statistic tells me is that we should support these kids in their dreams, but make sure they're handling their business in school and life outside of that.
quote:
Originally posted by Vox:
I'm not sure I see a problem with this. The problem as I see it is that schools and parents need to make sure they're preparing the kids for the world, regardless of what their dream profession is.

If twice the proportion of black kids want to be athletes or entertainers as the proportion of white kids, and it turns out that there is double the proportion of successful black athletes and entertainers, then I see no disparity problem. The problem that exists lies in society's options for black young men once they reach the point where they can't become ballplayers or rappers. Until then, all this statistic tells me is that we should support these kids in their dreams, but make sure they're handling their business in school and life outside of that.


I agree with you on this.. Nothing wrong with having a backup plan. I'm not trying to kill anyone's dream.. But we have to be realistic with our kids and say that is fine and dandy but what are you going to do if it does not work out?? So I agree with what I think you are saying
quote:
Originally posted by ZAKAR:
Until we as a people create avenues for our youth, such as business, educational institutions and apprentiship programs, the cliche of sports and entertainment will always be around. I mean why do we expect white people to give our children opportunities the can give their own. Why would they want their children competeing with our children for jobs they created. This is a crucial area we need to examine. If we do not creat jobs and opportunities for our youth and the people of our communities no one else will, especially with outsourcing and the cutting back of jobs


Yep or arm them with the skills to go out on their own. And luckily in the IT field you can do that to a pretty big extent..
quote:
Originally posted by Lamp:
quote:
Originally posted by Vox:
I'm not sure I see a problem with this. The problem as I see it is that schools and parents need to make sure they're preparing the kids for the world, regardless of what their dream profession is.

If twice the proportion of black kids want to be athletes or entertainers as the proportion of white kids, and it turns out that there is double the proportion of successful black athletes and entertainers, then I see no disparity problem. The problem that exists lies in society's options for black young men once they reach the point where they can't become ballplayers or rappers. Until then, all this statistic tells me is that we should support these kids in their dreams, but make sure they're handling their business in school and life outside of that.


I agree with you on this.. Nothing wrong with having a backup plan. I'm not trying to kill anyone's dream.. But we have to be realistic with our kids and say that is fine and dandy but what are you going to do if it does not work out?? So I agree with what I think you are saying


We're on the same page. My main point was that we tend to gloom-and-doomify every think that black people do, but sometimes what we do is not bad, or wrong. To me, though, there's not much I like to see more than a black child with a dream, and some honest effort at making it come true. I would like to see more black kids want to be scientists, doctors, etc., but the point is, if the kids are getting opportunities and education, I don't care if 100% of our kids want to be athletes. As long as they get the tools to succeed once that goes by the wayside, along with some common sense, I think it's not a big deal.

And of course, if our kids are NOT getting these tools, then the problem is not that the kids have unrealistic dreams, but that they're not getting the right tools.

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