After spending the last couple of weeks at three Tulsa Public High Schools mentoring 7th grade Black males enrolled in our All-In Mentoring Program. I am convinced that there is nothing inherently wrong with this generation of kids. Yes, on average, today’s youth are more disrespectful of authority, more sexually active, and more violent than twenty years ago. Of course, all the listed issues are major problems, and need to be reduced. I contend, that today’s youth s (kids) are not to “blame” for the increases in negative behavior.
The problems are just the natural outgrowth of the vulgar, vile, and disrespectful pop culture, which is endorsed and promoted by ADULTS. For example, you can’t even listen to a radio station or watch network television unless you are prepared to be inundated with, among other negative ideas, misogyny, drug abuse, sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility, and general disdain for sanctity of life, family values, and education.
So, I am asking every adult to think about small steps YOU could take to help increase the educational opportunities and outcomes of our youth. Examples include:
- Mentoring a child 1 hour a week,
- Attending PTA and/or local school board meetings,
- Organizing parent worships and classes for teenage and young parents;
- Be careful what you say on Facebook if you have youth as “friends”,
- Turn off the “booty shaking, stripper songs” on the radio if youth are in the car
- Don’t teach, encourage, or laugh when young kids recite rap songs and words that are inappropriate.
In closing, as adults we must take responsibility for the state of our youth and community. We must adopt an “either you part of the problem or part of the solution” mentality. Once we do this, I sincerely believe we can overcome the current state of affairs. I say this because at the end of the day, the students (kids) are only a reflection of the environment that adults have created.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, M.Ed., J.D., is the managing partner of SolomonSimmonsSharrock & Associates law firm, an adjunct professor of African & African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and a former D-1 football player at the University of Oklahoma. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/solospeaks.