I never let kids talk on their phones or text while riding in my car... well, without first asking permission.
My young cousins know the rules and they relay these rules to any other kid needing a ride.
These kids are also forced to endure up to fifteen minutes of dated music.
I'm old school - my car, my rules.
But an odd thing happens on these rides.
I ask questions and the kids actually talk.
I end up knowing more about these kids than do their own parents.
A common thread in our discussions is the lack of faith in most community institutions.
Many of these kids don't fear the police. The police are seen as a brutal and unjust occupying force in their neighborhoods.
Many of these kids don't trust or respect their parents. Parents are largely absent from or disinterested in their own children's lives.
Many of these kids don't trust their understanding of God or the church. Organized religion is seen as a grand hustle forced upon them by doting grandparents and pimping preachers.
Many of these kids don't value school. The teachers are under prepared and underpaid. In a culture which values money - why would a poor nerd have any credibility?
Many of these kids don't look up to the local hustler. They value their possessions but few aspire to do the prison time often required to live the life.
If these kids lack faith or trust in most adults - in whom are they to believe?
I'm not all that concerned if the kids respect me.
Sure, that's a plus - but the goal is to get these kids to respect and value themselves.
(Not what they have - valuing only ones possessions leads to a mentality of "Win at all costs". This mentality justifies wrongdoing by valuing material goods more than character. But this "success" is too often short lived and unsustainable.)
I'm not living the lifestyle to which I've grown fond.
I'd much prefer to engage in salons discussing theories or esoteric concepts, or wearing my nicer clothes while attending a gallery opening, or chillin' at a bar with a few international hotties, or just enjoying the fruits of my labor.
But I've been sidetracked by a more pressing need.
(There seems to be a geneation lost to the lure of the rewards of success instead of actually doing the work required for such success.)
But can this need ever be met?
Competence breeds confidence.
Confidence breeds success.
Success can garner wealth.
And often a well earned wealth can become happiness.
Popular people are often those who are good in something. Those who seek popularity are those who only seek the affectations of popularity without the work. Since most kids are concerned most with popularity - wouldn't it make the most sense to teach them marketable knowledge and skills?
I still can't jump on the "No Help From Others" bandwagon.
Instead, I'm on the "More Help From Ourselves" bandwagon.
It's not time for others to sit down - it really time for many of us to step up.
If these kids only see grown men accepting aid from others - what precedent is set for future generations?
If these kids see grown Black men doing well and then doing good - how does this change their perception of manhood?
If this generation has lost hope - on whom does this blame rest?
Is it not us?
Isn't it our responsibility to step up to the plate and create a modern-day "Chittlin' Circuit" which supports our own creative fruits?
Isn't it time that we create our own networks and connections to do what others haven't?
(This does not mean that we cannot accept help from others - only that the terms of that help cannot be dictated by those who would wish to subjugate us.)
Isn't it time we stopped chasing a failed version of the American Dream and began to create our own?
Isn't it time we created a new hope instead of looking to others to ride to our rescue?
If more of us males were men - wouldn't this generation of kids have more faith in a better future?