50 Solutions to the
Anthony Assadullah Samad
Believing that our children
are our future raises an interesting question, What kind of future can
we expect if our children aren’t well taught? The second and third
verses of the “Greatest Love of All” states that we “teach them well and
let them lead the way,” and “show them all the beauty that they have
The clouds that we see over our future, by and large, rests with the
cloud we see over our youth. Very rarely do I ever re-write my column,
but an event happened last week that influenced how the next ten
solutions would be articulated. Los Angeles City Councilman, Martin
Ludlow, arranged for 300 inner city middle and high school youth to see
a private screening of Samuel L. Jackson’s new movie, Coach Carter, a
movie that addresses the issue of what responsibility we all have to
teach our children, help them understand the true meaning of success and
let them make choices that will lead them to better lives. Councilman
Ludlow stated to me the night before that he believed not enough is
being done on this gang violence tip because we, as a society, don’t
spend enough time
showing our children how to make the right choices. I believe that is
true, and thus a critical part of solving the “Black Dilemma” will be
solving the twist many of our youth find themselves in because “we,” as
a society, have taken away many of their choices—like after-school
programs, college tutorial programs, and life training programs that
teach them how to be good, responsible, “educated” human beings desirous
of better lives than that of their parents. As the first American
generation that has less than what their parents have, we must prepare
our children how to reverse that trend—for if white children have less,
black children will have much less and continue to be disproportionately
impacted by their societal inequality. Billie Holiday once sang a song
that said, “God blesses the child that has his own.” The solutions in
this segment focuses on how we prepare the black child to have his or
Solution 31: Stop telling our children, “they ain’t sh*t” or “will never
be sh*t” Their
self-esteem and self-image must reflect the ability to achieve. If they
don’t believe they can
achieve, their self-perceptions become self-fulfilling prophesies. If
they are not achieving, tell them that they can do better, insist that
they try to do better, then help them do better. Don’t ostracize them.
Solution 32: Stop passing on the failures of one generation to another.
men that “they ain’t gonna be sh*t because their daddy wasn’t sh*t” is
nothing more than putting the frustrations of adults on their children.
Black America will have to acknowledge that it possesses millions of
frustrated adults who didn’t fulfill their individual potential. Instead
of thinking your children are no better than you, encourage your
children to want more than you, and be better at it.
Solution 33: Teach our children how to give. Many of our children are
because many of them only know how to receive. It has to be “all about
them.” We can’t raise a society of “takers” and “beggars.” All the laws
and the scriptures tell us it is better to give than to receive. There’s
a reason for that. The law of the world is that those who give, receive
ten fold. If future generations are to be blessed, we must teach them to
be givers, not takers.
Solution 34: We must teach our children the true meaning of success. The
generations of Blacks have sent the wrong message in that success is in
things like homes, cars and jewelry. Success are not those things.
Success can bring about those things. Success is self improvement and
understanding the dignity in being educated and accomplished. The film
Coach Carter, and actor Tiny Lister (who spoke after the film), points
out that winning basketball games is a measure of success, an
accomplishment. But in the larger scheme of things, it doesn’t compare
in terms of being educated and being able to change the quality of your
life. Success is not a relative engagement, it’s a definitive
engagement. You can have “stuff” and still be poor and unaccomplished.
That is essentially the state of Black America, poor and unaccomplished,
with everybody driving BMWs, Benzs and Escalades. We must paint a
different picture of success.
Solution 35: Teach our children that failure is an experience, not a
finality. Help them
learn that failure is the stairway to success, and not to get bogged
down in failing. Real failure is in not trying to do better—not trying
to succeed. When you stop trying, then you know you’ve failed.
Solution 36: Tell our children that we love them so they will stop
seeking love in all the
wrong places. Our children have been convinced that “the streets” love
them more than their parents and their homes. The heinous things taking
place in our communities stem from an absence of love in people who have
no love—so they give no love—and they destroy. Gangs, prostitution,
drugs, and pregnancy are all surrogates for young people looking for
love or someone to love. Black people need to learn to love themselves
again, and being loved is central to giving love.
Solution 37: Tell our children our stories of sacrifice so that they
know struggle and can
relate to struggle as a continuing battle to achieve equality in
America. Because they have
everything others have doesn’t mean they’re equal. Help our children
understand why they are different and need to be “twice as good” as the
other man to be equal in his eyes. Our parents taught us during
segregation, but we forgot to pass it on—thus, the equality gap is
widening and our children are paying for it. Black struggle in America
is a continuing story to be told.
Solution 38: Help our children understand that education changes their
Many think education is over-rated. They won’t understand until they get
in their thirties,
becoming frustrated adults themselves that they should have taken
advantage of what they
could’ve learned. They can’t talk what they don’t know and can’t go
where they’ve never been, without education.
Solution 39: Teach our children that being rich is more than having
money. Being rich is
having a spiritual base (knowing God at an early age), always seeking
understanding (answers to life’s questions), and staying focused enough
to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others. When
you are touching lives with the blessings God has given you, you know
Solution 40: Teach our children to never stop dreaming for a better
life. So many of the
youth I encounter have, what I call, “dead eyes,” that are life-less,
without purpose, meaning they have given up on life and become resigned
to their condition. For as long as you have dreams, you have life.
Dreams never allow the gleam in one’s eye to be extinguished. It’s
heart-breaking to see dead eyes in a young people. Tell our young to
believe, and keep in their mind’s eye, their dreams.
The last ten solutions deal with what is holding Black America down the
most, the unwillingness on the part of “the Negro” to let a new
generation of black thinkers and activists emerge.
Anthony Asadullah Samad is a
national columnist, author and managing director of the Urban Issues
Forum. His new book, 50 Years After Brown: The State of Black Equality
In America can be ordered online (go to www.thestateofblackequality.com).
He can be reached for comments at
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