Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Take The AverageBro Challenge™!

[Editor's Note: Real Talk. Please read this post in its entirety if you're new here. This blog will make a lot more sense if you do, and far less if you don't.]

Some of you get on me in the comments section for seemingly being pessimistic about social issues effecting the black community all the time. I refer to situations like The Jena 6, Imus vs Rutgers, Enough Is Enough vs BET, etc. as Drive-By Activism because they're always issues where we're being asked to do something passive (forwarding an email) and/or reactive (jamming phone lines). I advocate being aggressive and proactive by trying to treat the problem itself, not its eventual symptoms.

Sometimes this comes off as being severely hateristic and I know that often undermines my points. What can I say, I just have my opinions on the best way of going about getting things done. Everybody has their cause. Some people want to get BET shut down, but personally I don't think having 106th and Park off the air is going to do a damn thing to improve the state of young Black America if half of Black America can't even read. That's just my opinion of course, and everyone else is entitled to theirs.

A wise man[1] once said, "if you're given 15 minutes, are you going to use it to keep your people asleep or to wake them up?" As this blog has continued to grow in popularity and exposure, I've found myself often confronted with the question of just what the mission of is. Why am I consistently dropping 2-3 solid posts a day, often at the expense of family time and sometimes to the detriment of my Day Job? Is it just to provide you guys with a few minutes of relief and an occasional laugh as your scarf down your lunch? I sure as hell hope not, because there's already more than enough other stuff on the web that already fills that void. No, I surely hope I'm being used by God to provide something more. Between all the jokes, I hope I'm doling out food for thought that somehow causes my readers to reconsider how they view certain things. If I'm falling short of this, holler at me in the comments, because maybe I've got some soul searching to do.

I've thought about this more and more in the past few weeks, and it finally occurred to me that I should state this website's mission as clearly as possible. Many people visit this blog daily, and I hope I can maybe, just maybe convince some of you to consider doing something, anything to help the next generation of kids coming behind us. This could be as simple as tutoring, mentoring, coaching your favorite sport, volunteering to help teach Sunday school, or just taking that wayward kid in your neighborhood under your wing.

Call me pessimistic, but I'm convinced that most adults, hell, most teenagers, are a lost cause that don't deserve your time or energy. If somebody's 25 and eff'ed the eff up, chances are they'll be 45 and eff'ed the eff up too. Sometimes it's just too late to be bothered. So, aim lower and work with the kids. But don't look for instant gratification, because you probably won't get it.

My parents raised me and my two brothers with the sense that serving others is not "giving back", it's an obligation, not charity. I watched them both sacrifice time, money, and energy to benefit the community we lived in. My mother ran a youth scholarship pageant for teenage girls and boys that infused kids from families in which nobody had ever graduated from high school with the understanding of the importance of self-determination and advanced education. I watched my Dad quietly take other (often fatherless) kids under his wing, and haul them along with his own children to play basketball (which he coached informally) or go fishing. They never did these things for acclaim or money, and never did them at the expense of their own family, but I saw a sense of purpose in both of them that said "I've made it, and I am obligated to help others just as someone helped me."

My two older brothers and I grew to understand the level of sacrifice involved in helping others. I started tutoring and coaching youth basketball as a freshman in college. Years later, I still find a way to do both, despite having a challenging career and a growing family. I don't do this to get in the newspaper. There is no immediate reward for spending your Saturday mornings with other people's children. I do it because it has to be done, and if not by me, then by whom?

I've also at various points in time participated in youth mentoring programs, church programs that "renovated" low income apartments, pre-marital awareness classes, parenting courses, adult literacy campaigns, and neighborhood watch. I'm sure this sounds like a huge committment time-wise, but really, we're only talking a few hours a week, and never at the expense of my own family. It's not really that hard, and it's usually pretty fun too. Coaching a winning basketball team of 5th graders is good stuff.[2] Sure, it's service, but that doesn't mean you don't get something out of it for yourself.

So take The AverageBro Challenge™. Do something. Anything. It's not hard, and you never know whose life you might make better with the slightest amount of effort. The true changes needed to elevate our community take time, sacrifice, and commitment, not just a Black President and a few forwarded emails. Don't just talk about the problem, be a part of the solution.

I hope you'll join me. The next generation is waiting on you.

Question: Can you join AB and Friends in taking The Challenge™ to improve our communities, one kid at a time? If you're already doing something similar, please share your story below in the comments to inspire others and let them know just how easy it is to sacrifice your time and make a difference.

[1] Wondering who the wise man of note is? The legendary Chuck D, of course.

[2] No need to lie, losing sucks. It's much more fun to win. Winning roolz.

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