The construction of us in the past and our youth in the future is a combination process. It involves nature (DNA material) and nurture (environment) with considerable influence from family, church, school and the community. We pray that everyone has a functioning value system and/or moral compass. There…we have it….how modern southerners should be built.
I was built back in the day during the end of Jim Crow. Not being killed by a mob, the police or a mob that included the police was the simple goal. Oh, our parents were built as tough as nails; I swear my father was made from iron and leather. We are noticeably softer than they were unapologetically. They didn’t want their kids to be “fetching water, tin tub bathing, step off the sidewalk for White folks” tough. We were air conditioned, water in the door Negroes.
The heart-break of my life was not being a member of a Black fraternity. But, it turns out that I was never built to take the abuse of hell week….hell naw. Don’t get it twisted, military training like Ranger School in Columbus, SEAL School in San Diego or basic training of Marines on Parris Island is a good character building. While that training is tough, it is doable. Some of the pledge process for Black frats is worst is than CIA alleged “enhanced interrogation.” Oh, I would have been on Fox News in I attemped to join certain groups back when. My father loved his membership but he was going from a sharecroppers’ life into the middle class. That fraternity was a big part of his polishing and development. While I would have enjoyed the brotherly bond and community service, they would have “made” me.
This discussion is needed on a public policy/politics blog because how kids are built directly relates to what they take on in life. In my community, kids often have a struggle mentality—struggling, it’s what we do. Parents actually built their kids to be strong for the struggle rather than smart to avoid the struggle. A sista in college told me that her mother raised her ready to fight well with a man about cheating. I asked why she wasn’t raised to detect and avoid the cheating type.
Yea, I am unapologetically soft and conduct myself accordingly. I have a “hood” theory about jail. Lawd knows I can’t do real time behind bars. My unfounded theory is that some kids must have grown up in small space and therefore can live in an iron closet without problems. I love the sun, the light, the night time sky and freedom. What are you doing that is worth jeopardizing your outside freedom? Would you give up freedom for a few dollars? These fools have turned the word jail into an accomplishment word. “Man, I know how to jail.”
Another hood theory involves people being outside. It’s funny what some people can’t see. In some communities, people always seem to be on the porch or outside because there is limited room and privacy inside. Again, I wasn’t built to be in small spaces and my future house might only be 1100 square feet but you can best believe that it is one big room with only the bathroom separate—windows everywhere.
So, if you aren’t built for the struggle, it’s fine. But, you need to be very careful what situations and drama enter into your life. My friends who grew up rough are surprisingly the ones with smooth lives today. They wanted the rest of their lives and their kids’ lives to be worry free.
Some of those who didn’t grow up in the struggle are struggling now because they are too soft or weak. The conservative movement doesn’t know that this point is the key to their inroads in my community. Government assistance might have inadvertently created a segment of the population whose main interest is seeking the infamous “check.”
I don’t like struggling and wasn’t built to have the government or anyone else tell me to care for my family. One last point: what is up with grown folks who are too cool to work an entry level job but aren’t too cool to ask someone to feed their kids. That’s some bull.
While I am ranting, let’s talk about DNA from the first paragraph. Young people should be careful regarding the people with whom they have children. All of the love and nurturing in the world can’t counterbalance a bad seed. Some of these girls can’t pick husband material men because they have never been around healthy marriages. They are built to fail from the beginning like their brothers who don’t know how to be law-abiding, job-holding men. Uncle Teddy wants to give some loving advice: go to the family reunion on both side of a person’s family and study how they carry themselves long before you consider MARRYING this person and later having children.
Old Uncle Teddy was raised to move the Black family forward and we simply can’t afford to have you holding us back or turning us around. A friend says “we are one generation from poverty.” Get it—that’s a cute way of saying we recently came from poverty and we can easily return if we are careful.