Thomas Chatterton Williams knows how to use big words, shape them into coherent, impressive sentences and accomplish getting a byline in the Washington Post. But adding substance to the conversation of hip-hop and its damaging effects on the black community is what he really needs to work on.
In the Post’s Monday, May 28th article, Black Culture Beyond Hip-Hop, Williams sadly does what most writers on black culture do: eloquently point out the problem, but miserably fail to offer any workable solutions.
I believe, as black people, we’re tired of the conversation and we’re ready for some targeted action. We’re tired of the black pundits and activists with bullhorns, but no real agenda. We’re tired of the writers and the professional speakers who are looking to bolster their resumes. We’re tired of the national conferences and symposiums filled with black intelligentsia who have a lot to say, but no solid game plan. Collectively they have gotten black people where? No where, but back at the beginning. In fact, the only limited good about the hip-hop controversy is that it has launched a few people’s careers to national status and has clearly gotten some authors book deals. But in large part, articles like Williams’ does nothing more than drive us, once again, into the never-ending circle of low test scores, poverty, failing health, dangerous neighborhoods, sub-prime lending, poor schools, incarceration and the list goes on.
So, in hopes of not sounding hypocritical, here are a few solutions I’ve devised to counter the hip-hop culture and its damaging effects on black kids. I’ll start with parenting.
— Pay attention to your kids and don’t expect the neighborhood, the schools or the community to raise them, because if you don’t you might have to visit them in jail. I know this from experience. There are too many black males in my family and my husband’s family who know what the inside of a cell looks like. Parents cannot be everywhere at all times with their children, but black parents can do more to save them from the streets.
— Be vigilant about your children’s education. Talk to your children’s teachers. Know and understand what they are accomplishing and/or not accomplishing in class. Don’t be afraid to schedule appointments with your children’s teacher and the principal, if needed. Diligently monitor your children’s school progress because if you don’t you may have to see your child repeat a grade, fail their end-of-year exams, or, heaven forbid, drop out in high school.
— Give your children the gift of a mother and father. (GASP) Did I just say that? I did. I firmly believe this about children: It takes two to make’em and it takes two to raise’em.
All children deserve, need, and desire two parents. I will probably meet heavy resistance for saying this, but studies have shown that black children benefit when they have a mother and father. One of the ways that black culture will improve is if more black moms choose to stay with the man they choose to procreate with and more black men stop ducking from responsibility.
I fully agree that single mothers are raising amazing children every day and that some two-parent households raise some of the biggest hellions known to all mankind, but wouldn’t life be much easier for moms and more healthy for children if there were two role models for their children to emulate — a mommy and daddy?
Black women and men must learn how to create better, lasting relationships with one another and have intact homes because if we don’t more black men will be absent from their children’s lives and more black women will be forced to raise their children alone.
— Don’t settle for the hammering effect of outside influences. In this fast-paced new millennium there is always something vying for our children’s attention — TV, movies, video games, the Internet, music, ipods, Gameboys, cellphones, PDAs, digital cameras, food and all manner of electronic devices that keep kids’ minds riveted to LCD screens and snack packs and out of books.
As a parent, don’t feel you have to succumb to the pressure of getting your children the latest gadgets and toys on the market. Instead, get them a library card and treat them to outings at the bookstore, museum, zoo, park, or historical site because if you don’t you’ll find your child knowing how to send a text message, but not how to locate a call number in the library.