People watchers can find many lessons in their daily observations of life. I am a people watcher and I am amazed at the types of things I see. People talk about not having role models to follow, but the world is full of surrogate role models. I watch them every day. Television provides some of the best and worst role models anyone could ever hope for. The most amazing role models are doctors, lawyers, teachers, and other professionals. Just think about it. A teacher finishes high school in four years. That means a mere twenty-eight classes successfully completed. Then their masters, a few more classes, and the next thing you know they wake up, walking across a stage. Someone hands them a ticket (diploma) that says now you can teach one of those 28 classes they took.
That can be you. It’s just that simple. Twenty-eight classes, then a few more, and the whole world changes for you. But there is a choice you must make. The classes take time. You can’t go to all of the parties or stay out all night or “high” while taking the classes. Otherwise, you will wake up broke, feeling bad, alone and, maybe, even homeless.
Back to those role models. I like to watch the Cosby’s for life lessons. On cable, they show them every night. On Charter, they’re on Channel 161 at 8 p.m. Their family lives well. They are your roadmap towards a good life. It should be required watching for all African American children.
You can, of course, get role models by watching the “Gangsta Rap” music channels. There, you will watch and learn how to wear your pants down to your knees, your cap on backwards, and curse in rhyme. One in one million of you will make it big. And then you die an early death. The choices are yours.
I got mine. It took me 17 years and not going to a lot of parties, leaving the drugs alone, and choosing the right mate. I first got started by taking a short course in barbering (less than one year) and then I was independent.
The lessons in this short column are for parents. I was never cursed by my parents. They never attacked my self-esteem. I was told that I was smart enough to be anything I wanted to be, and I believed them. I had no reason not to believe them because neither of them even finished high school. They took me to church and taught me to love and fear God.
Much of what I am writing here can get lost because the parents made bad choices. But they know what those choices were, and they should not let their children make the same bad choices. I heard actress, Cheryl Lee Ralph say, “I am an endangered species, but I don’t sing the victims song.” The Bible gives me choices but my parents really didn’t give me choices. My dad said, “If you eat at my table and sleep under my roof, you will follow my rules.” Thank God those were rules he learned from being born near slavery times. They were rules that made me know he loved me and wanted the best for me. I followed his rules and taught my three boys the same rules.
It is amazing to watch two people meet, mate and commit to one another for life to take care of each other and their offspring. I see it every day in the couples walking down the street, holding hands, looking and smiling at each other, with great expectations. He expects she will love him, produce his children, nurture them, and he, in turn, will train them in life’s ways and find a way to take care of their economic needs.