04-22-2019  2:54 pm      •     
Rob Ingram
Published: 21 July 2011

They say if you want to hide some thing from a Black man, put it in a book. I say to hide something from most Black people, just write it anywhere and leave it around. 


Pause before you jump on me like they pounced Bill Cosby for his "dirty laundry" comment a few years ago -- this isn't an indictment on Black people, just thoughts and suggestions.  They say be careful giving advice, but it's also cruel watching our people being led like blind sheep to their own slow torture and slaughter.  What's worse is that slow torture and slaughter is also very expensive, and WE pay for it!  How you ask?  In the systems we call education and justice.

Maybe saying that you can hide information from most Black people by writing it is too broad, but I also don't think "many" would summarize things any better.  Because as sad as it is, the reality is too many of our young Black people don't read, can't read and just won't read.  Like the one time I argued with a young man about a piece entitled "Start Snitching." I realized 20 minutes into the argument that he had never read past the title of the piece.  Argument over, I pronounced him winner by default (because arguing with ignorance is a lost battle).  Or like the many times I've been talking to groups of young people and I mention that I write.  It stopped bothering me that I was normally met with little to no response or questions about what I write or where they might find it; I figure that opens the opportunity to talk with them about the importance of reading. 

See, I'm also convinced that our children don't read much simply because they are not asked or expected to; you know, the kids that when you ask if they've read recently, the answer is "why?" or "why should I?"  So I guess we expect that because we sent our children (dropped off, pointed in the direction of, instructed to get to) the school, it was all up to the teachers after that?  If you read my sarcasm, well, you're reading right!  While I might be critical of the education system (and the justice system, and the "welfare" system, and pretty much most systems except for those human internal ones) I'm really critical of the entire system, which includes the students, parents, business owners and community members that are all part of that system.  School was never designed as a stand-alone fortress of education, but rather an extension of life and introduction of new information to make life make sense.  So it will get us absolutely nowhere if we think that standing around pointing fingers at the school buildings and the people inside them while we blame them for our children's academic failure, the preposterous dropout rates, childhood obesity, juvenile incarceration rates, and the lack of qualified candidates in the jobs pool!  Stop it!  It is not their fault (at least not alone)!  The problems are so compounded few dare even tread down that road.  To sum it up, check the movie "Waiting For Superman."

Meanwhile, we've got work to do.  Every day an entire wealth of information is shared and our young people grasp very little of it.  What do I propose we do?  Start by reading yourself; be the example.  Then talk about reading to young people, but not as punishment, or for people who are acting white!  Give books, magazines, and other things with words in them (without cheat codes!) to young people, and do that with excitement.  And take advantage of the hidden jewels in our community, like the literacy program Readers To Leaders and the Journey To Freedom project.  Through that program, young people are taught, encouraged and even rewarded to read in order to learn more about their rich history, culture and traditions, and in turn can mature and aspire to use their newfound intellect to give back to their community; our community -- and become leaders!        


The views expressed are the sole opinion of the writer and do not represent any entity, organization, or agency. 


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