This past Labor Day weekend, for me, was all about family. We had another successful “Tom Joyner Family Reunion” in Orlando, and much of the purpose in the party revolved around education. Whether it was a seminar on directing parents and kids on finding the right college or showing kids the danger of DWT – or Driving While Texting (Thank you, Ford!) – most of us get the message that education is a good thing.
I’m not even going to take this blog to the obvious, common-sense route you may think I’m going to take it, in light of the fact that some parents are actually protesting the fact that President Obama’s speech on education will be broadcast in schools today.
I think my brain would explode if I had to lay out all the reasons that the notion of thinking children can be harmed by hearing the president urge them to get an education is ignorant, stupid, illogical, irrational and racist. You already know that.
In fact, if I were you, I wouldn’t listen to any more right-wing radio stations or read any more right-wing newspapers, online interviews or blogs because all it’s doing is stressing you out. Don’t go to work this morning debating with your co-workers, who may somehow feel they’re able to justify it, and don’t even spend time talking about it with the people who think the way you do.
The best thing to do is to use what you know for your own information and your own good. Keep it in mind the next time someone is stupid enough to say race is no longer an issue in this country. Remember this day when someone tries to tell you that quota systems are no longer needed because people can be trusted to hire people of color for jobs and admit them to college without any intervention. When people try to convince you that some people don’t hate you because you’re black, remember this day. And also remember that this backlash against this president has very little to do with politics and almost everything to do with the color of his skin. Remember that he is a highly educated, highly intelligent, mixed race man and is the most powerful person in the world. If so many white people are against him, imagine how many are against you?
I say this not to make you paranoid or angry or to encourage you to hate. I say it because I’m about education, and the protests against the president speaking to children about education is a crucial lesson for any of us who may have been lulled into some kind of complacency about race over the last few years. I say this hoping it will make you realize how much work there is to be done. We should not only listen to the president’s message on education; we should soak it up and soak it in, and then make sure we are doing everything in our power to take advantage of every opportunity that exists to better ourselves.
Last week on the TJMS, Education Secretary “Call-me-Arne-because-we’re-cool-like-that” Duncan told Roland Martin that the Obama administration would extend the $85 million dollars earmarked for HBCUs that was set to expire this year. These schools desperately need those millions and more if they’re going to continue to exist. But Arne also said the extension has to be approved by Congress. So, instead of being upset over the ignorance and racism we’re hearing regarding President Obama’s education speech, I’d rather we use that time and energy to make sure members of Congress know they must vote to extend the $85 million to HBCUs. Now more than ever, it should be clear to us that we need institutions – schools, churches, companies, media outlets, etc. – that educate, aid, nurture and have our best interests at heart.
Our children are growing up in a country that elected the first black president. But they’re also growing up in a country where that president is getting 400 percent more death threats than the previous president, and at least one of those threats has come from a pulpit. They need to be made aware of racism and made aware that the best way to counter it is to be educated enough to recognize it and to use their brains to study hard, get a college degree, to be proud of their history and to always have a hand out to bring someone else along.
They should do these things, all while realizing there are people rooting for them to fall, to fail and even die just because of the color of their skin.