Once upon a time there were four young athletes who lived in small towns in northeastern North Carolina. Three of the young men played football in high school. The young lady was captain of her high school’s dance team. Statistically speaking, all four of these young people should have dropped out of high school, had one or more illegitimate children, been arrested for selling or purchasing illegal substances, homicide or a slew of other offenses. Although statistics report that today’s black youth are more likely to be incarcerated or less likely to obtain advanced degrees after high school if they graduate at all, these four individuals have overcome these statistics by proving they are not sex-crazed, drug selling high school dropouts. All four have just graduated from high school in northeastern North Carolina. As the story continues, two of the young men will be attending college in the fall and the third will be enlisting in the Navy. The young lade will also be attending college in the fall.
So, how did these four young people graduate even though the cards were stacked against them? One important piece of information that I neglected to mention earlier in the story was that all four of them attend church regularly. At their church, they are taught the importance of maturing into responsible young adults. They have also attended sessions on planning, applying, and paying for college along with their parents where they learned about financial aid, the Fafsa, and how to respectfully address police officers. Jeremiah, Jharel, and Damien have attended a summit specifically designed for African American boys on dressing professionally, proper handshakes, and how to start their own businesses. They have also been taught the importance of having a strong support system to encourage them. Church members pray for them and encourage them regularly. They have been given the tools to grow into respectable adults. Additionally, they have very strong support systems at home.
So, why am I sharing this story on Edvice? Have you ever tried to paint a wall without paint or a paintbrush? It’s pretty difficult and tends to not turn out well. It is my personal belief that we can train a child to grow up to be successful if they are given the right tools. There are recipes to help shape and mold today’s youth into productive citizens who can positively contribute to the world in which we live. It is not always easy or convenient. It requires sacrifice and time, but it is certainly possible and well worth the investment. These four young people are living proof that not all of today’s youth are lost and
are worthy of our time and energy.
Perhaps you may know or interact with youth on a regular or semi-regular basis. Don’t be afraid to encourage them or offer them advice. It’s not enough to place all the responsibility on their parents or someone else. It takes a village to raise children and it’s amazing how much kids will listen when they know someone actually cares about them. During a time when young, black teenagers are being shot without hesitation, it is extremely refreshing to know these stories have a positive beginning. We should all remember the seeds we plant today will grow into something. If we plant and cultivate seeds of greatness, that’s the harvest we will reap.
© 2017 Bryan A. Ruffin