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.

10 AverageComments™:

cinco said...

Well said. I try to do my part-everyday.I believe that it's easier to make positive contributions than to waste any energy on negative actions/thoughts. But I also try to carry this out without any expectations, or 'strings' attached to my actions as well.

Vindy said...

I've been a soccer mom,(x2) chess mom (x2)a basketball mom (x2) and REALLY active in the MPTA. I'm still a soccer mom x1 and ACM of #2's boy scout troop. My work in the school allowed me to see how little black folk value education. There are not enough edumacators who can convince me otherwise maybe
they can convince themselves. Good to see your blog/comments growing at a steady pace.

hawa said...

My mother just retired from teaching after 36 years of service. Many of her former students are older than I am, and my heart gets warm whenever I meet one and hear, "Your mom was my FAVORITE teacher!"

She touched a lot of lives during that time and it's an unbelievable joy to see how her influence helped somebody along the way.

But here I am. Like most people, I desire to answer the "do something" challenges. And also like many, I'm not sure where to start.

I have two young sons of my own. And when I'm not sure what to do for the community at-large, I remind myself that injecting two more positive and productive black men into the world is a great start.

Love the blog! Keep writing...

Symphony said...

Love this post AvBro. On my blog I advocate for more proactive, local community service instead of reactionary big, national organizations.

We should do what we expect the "leaders" to do. And support the ones in our communities who are already doing it.

I recently found your blog. I'll be back. Definitely loving the vibe.

writeonbro said...

Bro you're on point again as always. I pray you continue to use your blog as a platform to subliminally edutain us as often as you like.

I've recently got hooked up with a local community center and it's both a challenge and a rewarding experience just to see one more youngBro pull up his freaking pants up he walks by me or to hear one of them ask for help with their homework.

Oh yeah, I always wondered how to spell A-ite.

achoiceofweapons said...

Don't waste time complaining about slights and injustices. Do something about by talking to folks and organizing a responsive effort and if no one is down to help lead by example and do it alone.

Anonymous said...

"Education, the Key to Prosperity."

When are, we, as a people, going to start working with our youth to eliminate the lies that are fed to them by the media that prevent them from achieving to thier fullest potential? When are we, going to stand up and fight the idea, pervasive in our youth, that if you are excelling in school, in advanced classes and dominating (academically) you classmates, you are “acting white”. This idea is absurd! Throughout history, we have pushed education when it was forbidden upon pain of death! Even during Jim Crow, we created over 150 colleges to serves our children when the mainstream ones refused to let us in. When mainstream businesses refused our money, we became entrepreneurs and set up thriving districts such as Little Hayti in Durham, North Carolina and Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This all happened, because we educated ourselves, either formally or informally!!

Now, after our people fought to open doors to the mainstream of American intellectual life, a thief come in the night to steal the victory and perseverance from our kids; the idea that academic excellence is “acting white”, our ridicule of our brothers and sisters who strive for educational and professional excellence. As they go forward in their academic accomplishments, we have Black idiots taunting them with the label “acting white.” Do not confuse professionalism or academic excellence with “acting white.” One has nothing in the world to do with the other. In fact, those Black folks who do not encourage nor support their fellow Black students or Black businesses are actually the ones “acting white.” They also act white when they do not sound their objections or defend against other races that denigrate their Black brothers and sisters, or when they mistreat their own Black people with the same lies, injustice and incorrectness as white supremacist do. Those who are accusing other of “Acting white,” are simply being niggerish, or, put a better way “stupid”, themselves!

I issue a challenge to everyone! Check you state’s, your individual district’s, your child’s school’s status on proficiency tests. You will see an great gap in the performance of black and white students. Check the ACT, SAT, AP, and other tests. With affirmative action about to go off into history and the standards rising, we must reaffirm our intellectual tradition. Start reading (newspaper, books, magazines, etc., use the public library, etc.). As a special treat, give your kids gifts certificates for bookstores. Take your children to museums, galleries, parks, etc. We must challenge the idea promulgated through BET and throughout history that all we do is play sports and rap!!

View my sites at:,,

Or, you can email me at

Ginger said...

I just startedd reading your blog this year so I missed this post but I am definantely on board.

I currently mentor and coach behaviorally challenged teens in the DC area in addition to sitting on an advisory board for a HIV/AIDS education initiative and volunteered as a CASA for kids in the DC foster care system.

I plan to do more once the new year begins but my Internship takes up most of my time during the week.

You really do inspire me AB and this blog is definitely a testament to your intention to not only talk about it but to be about doing more in our neighbourhoods.

TD1016 said...

For the past two years I have been a mentor/volunteer for a program called Women Helping Girls, that provides positive role models to girls grades 7-12 in the local city school district. I am also part of their College Bound committee in which we help the girls in seeking the opportunity to get a college education. I'm also on a committee that promotes scholastic achievement of black youth throughout the area county, I live in (Urban Lesgue of Rochester Black Scholars Planning/Alumni Committee).

adinasi said...


Having stumbled upon your blog, I was touched by your 'AB Challenge.' As a native DC'er living and teaching (as did my parents) in the LA area, I can recall my pops (a teacher at the 'old' McKinley Tech) shuttling his students home late at night from band practice. Fast forward 30 years, and I'm doing the same thing with young people as a volunteer and teacher.

Your 'challenge' is the only real solution to the problem of our young people. My 'back of the napkin' analysis says in a city like LA the true expense of fixing this problem is on the order of $400-500 million/year (details upon request ;-). Beyond that, each of us must employ the starfish parable: a beach full of starfish, one person throwing them back into the sea one at a time. Another person comes up and says, 'you can't possibly save all these starfish!" The person replies, 'But I just saved that one' as he tosses it back into the ocean....

Start with our families, and work outward.

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