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 anyone 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.
This is part of an e-mail I sent to Brother Wil LaVeist in response to his op-ed entitled from Dubois to Do Rags.