Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Truth Is Timeless

I ran across this article written by columnist Rick Badie and thought though it was over two years old, it is relevant now. A positive post about our children is always a good thing.

December > 01 >

What is so ‘un-black’ about being intelligent?
By RICK BADIE Thursday, December 1, 2005, 06:12 AM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Mandisa likes Abercrombie & Fitch, not FUBU.

She speaks proper English, not Ebonics.

She takes honor classes and belongs to the Beta Club and National Arts Honors Society at Parkview High. She plays the violin and has danced and sung in area productions of “The Nutcracker” and “My Fair Lady.”

Mandisa Surpris, a 15-year-old sophomore, is all this.

And she’s black.

Some of the other black students don’t know what to make of her. The way she dresses, the way she talks, the grades she earns. She’s an anomaly. To them, she’s more white than black. They’ve even told her so to her face.

“It’s the most ignorant statement I’ve ever heard,” Mandisa told me. “A lot of black students have the ability, but they think that being smart isn’t cool. So they hide it.”

She can talk about her experience now because she knows how to deal with it. That hasn’t always been the case.

Last year, the comments, slights and snubs took a toll. Mondays, the start of the school week, were especially tough. She’d complain of pain in her limbs. Mom and Dad took her to several doctors. Tests were taken and exams were given. Nothing.

Then, a doctor at Emory University wondered if her illness wasn’t psychosomatic. Something, he said, must be going on in Mandisa’s life that’s making her body ache. It was a breakthrough.

Mandisa, crying, had a heart-to-heart with Mom and Dad. She told them how some – not all — black students treated her as an oddity because she didn’t succumb to their idiotic and destructive views of the black diaspora. My words, not hers.

“It was painful,” said Renald Surpris, her father. “Some black kids don’t have the education and understanding to accept people for who they are, not what they look like.”

I know what some of you are thinking. Here Rick goes again. Writing about race. Stirring up trouble. Critics say it all the time. I don’t care. I write about racial issues carefully and selectively, and sometimes, when I’m ticked off.

Like now.

My people, my people. Some of you disturb me. There’s something terribly wrong when black students — even one — at Parkview or any other Gwinnett campus criticize, ridicule and question the “blackness” of someone like Mandisa simply because she wants to excel.

It’s even sadder in this case because Parkview High is no ghetto school. Its student population doesn’t hail from lower-income apartment complexes and subdivisions. At Parkview, the parents and students consider their school the crème de la crème of public schools, the clientele upper-crust perhaps and at the very least middle-class.

So I blame parents. You black parents.

It’s your fault if your children think academic achievement is uncool, anti-black and pro-white. It’s your fault if your offspring are so enthralled with the so-called thug life that they devalue education, hard work and dedication.

And you’re especially to blame if your child’s sense of black culture means that you have to think and act a certain way, and that to do otherwise means you’re acting like whitey.

It’s your fault. And you’re crippling your kids.

Mandisa wants to pursue acting or a career in the fashion industry. She plans to attend college in New York, her birthplace. I’m sure she’ll be fine.

It’s the kids who ridicule her that I worry about. When they succumb to this crippling ignorance, we all lose. We’ll have fewer doctors, teachers, artists and more. Fewer people to be proud of.


Blogger Kelvin Oliver said...

I think this hit the spot. I do like this article and what the write has said. Like you said, Common, this is relevant today. Sometimes I hear that there may not be such idea of speaking "proper" English, but correct grammar. As an English major, I think it is best for everyone to speak with correct grammar and language mechanics. The division of black and white way of speaking is noticeable. I do like the message that this writer points out to the readers.

I was not being what you is called accepted during my high school years. I kind of found it to be different and unique since I was there for a purpose whereas others were at school to be the class clowns and popular people.

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