Step Up 2: Taking Control

I remember being younger hearing parents saying they hope their kids get a scholarship for sports, so they can go to college.  Never mind the fact that the scholarship is hinged on sports.  So as soon as junior blows out a knee or ankle — no more scholarship, no more school.

People do not think about that though.  They don’t think to get an academic scholarship, if it just so happens you play sports and get on the team, that’s a plus; but when you blow out your knee, you lose your scholarship.  It’s funny though because I have noticed for some reason it seems like if the more educated you are or the better you speak, the more you separate yourself as a “black” person, from other black people no less.  I’m curious as to how that works.  That’s a part of that sellout comment I mentioned before.

Earlier in my career I had a boss (a black man) who said I wasn’t black.  When I asked him why, he said that he told me, “Look at how you talk.”  Of course, I got angry & in reference to how he spoke I said, “So because I speak English I’m not black?  Ok, I got it.”  What was bad was the white guys in the group laughed & none of the black folks had anything to say, as a matter of fact they were a bit shocked at what I said.  Sometime later (same job) there were a couple of black guys that I worked with whose uniforms were messed up, so I told them what they need to fix to make the uniform look good.  The one started saying, “Nigga, I ain’t trying to hear all that.  Play into what them crackas want if you want to but I ain’t doing it nigga.”  The other one said, “You know he a sellout nigga ’cause they always pick him to be in charge of shit when they ain’t around.”  I asked them, “Is it because I’m a sellout or is it because they can trust me to do the right thing & represent the organization well?”  As time went on I progressed in the company & they progressed to the unemployment line.

The thing that I have come to notice is that more times than not, being the less educated, articulate, eloquent, or refined is commonly identified as “black”.  What is worse is that we as a people have accepted the lesser & settled for less which is supported by some excuse as to why.  We even laugh at the acceptance of the lesser like Dave Chappelle’s joke about the Sunny D commercial when the black kid wanted the purple stuff.  I understand it to be a joke which is fine.  It becomes problematic when that becomes the perpetual cycle & no one tries to rise above it but instead they stay caught in those trappings.  Whether it is not being able to afford school, not being able to get a good job, or being told you will never make it very far in the world.  It’s all garbage & you limit yourself with it.  My question is why is it accepted?  I was told that very same thing, “You ain’t gone make it if you leave dawg.  You just ain’t.”  That was 14 years ago.  Now one of those people lives with me & the others are dead or struggling to make ends meet.  It’s funny because for many of those people I “sold out” but now I can buy them out & I am still the same person I always have been.

What pains me the most is people’s sense of entitlement — I have seen all too often where people feel they are owed something & that’s part of what they identify with as being held back.  The harsh reality is the fact that no one owes you anything & nothing is going to be given to you.  I often think of some of the people that were successful when it was truly hard to be so.  I think of Bill Cosby, very well educated playwright & had his own TV show in a time when it was difficult for any minority to attain goals like that.  Oprah Winfrey had her own TV show, has her own magazine, production studio & has her own TV network.  We even currently have a black President.  At this point, the only thing holding anyone back is oneself.

Onyx Contributor:  R.L. Knight

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