“Death and life lie in the power of the tongue.”
This scripture found in Proverbs 18:21 is often quoted by many regardless of who or what they believe in. But the other back-end of this proverb is often forgotten by many and it adds, “And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” In other words, you have the power to determine what happens or what will happen to you in life based on what you say and you will reap the benefits of whatever it is that comes out of your mouth, good or bad.
It’s no secret, the struggle is real for just about everyone in America these days who is not named Mitt Romney but the struggle continues for African-Americans. We can blame “the man”. We can blame the economy. We can blame the quality of our schools and communities but we must also point the finger at ourselves too, especially parents. We can throw in “the elders” as well. While there are some things that are beyond our control, there are aspects of “the struggle” that continue because of black parents and how we talk to our children. I should point out that I’m not a parent but I am a mentor and a youth minister. Even though I’m not a parent, I use the term “our” because that is what it is, “our” problem, and “our” struggle. And I also understand that what I say to a child could make a lasting impression on their life.
I’ve come to believe that back parents and elders alike pass the struggle on to their kids because of the things we say to our kids. Think about it? How many times as a child did you hear your mom, dad, or some other older black person say things to you like: “You ain’t gon’ be nothing”, “I don’t know why you’re playing football, you ain’t goin’ pro” or “You better get a job and quit wastin’ time talkin’ about college.” Among other things, we call our kids names too. We call them “dumb” and “stupid”. I love my mother but even she would say things to me like, “If your head wasn’t attached to your shoulders, you’d probably lose that too.” To this day, if I lose something that is first thing I think about.
Not only that but we tell our kids that because of their color or where they come from that they do not have a chance to succeed. We tell our kids they will not do well in life because they come from the projects or because their daddy isn’t around or because we’re poor. And then there’s the “these white folks don’t want you to have nothing so you better take what you can get” mentality. Some of these things may be true, you may be parenting a child who isn’t the brightest crayon in the bunch but you should never actually say these things to our kids.
Growing up, I was considered “the token black guy”. I had white friends, I did “white” things and for the most part white people liked me. Sometimes I would go over to a few of my white friends’ homes and play video games or whatever. I got to see my clear homies get in trouble for a variety of things, even making bad grades. One thing was constant though, before their parents called them stupid or dumb they would take a second to grit their teeth and encourage them to do better and develop a plan of action.
This is often times where black parents go wrong and people in general go wrong. We acknowledge a problem but we never come up with a plan or we blame the man. Far too often the black community points the finger at either the man or the child. As black matriarchs, patriarchs and elders we must start speaking positively to our children. We must acknowledge every good thing our children do. We have to stop passing the struggle on to our kids just because of what our parents said to us or what happened to us as children. And if your life didn’t turn out how you wanted it to that’s not the child’s fault, so don’t down them because you never came up. Use your own struggles to help raise the next generation.
Many of the young people I work with have no goals, no aspirations and no desire. They aren’t passionate about anything. I ask them why and they say some of the same things I’ve mentioned here. We’ve got black kids getting put down by black people and then we wonder why they’re so rebellious, raucous and ratchet. It’s because we constantly we speak struggle over them instead of success. Death and life lie in the power of the tongue and the success of this generation of African-Americans will be based on what we speak over ourselves and our youth. And remember burdens are meant to be lifted not carried.
Also make sure you check out this week’s episode of the “Straight Outta Lo Cash” Radio Show. This week’s show “Embracing and Enticing the Thirst” with model Mika Sha.You can also subscribe to the show on I-Tunes or listen on your Android, I-Phone, I-Pad or Black berry of Stitcher Radio.