What Jay-Z and Lil’ John can do for you

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 12, 2006

When the school year begins, Hertford County public schools will begin enforcing a new uniform dress code.

Good, it’s long overdue.

Not just in Hertford County, but in public schools across the nation.

I have heard many people complain all summer about the dress code and how expensive it will be to outfit children with the proper attire.

Of course most of the complaining is coming from select members of the black community, and I will now explain what I mean by &uot;select&uot;.

It is difficult for me to address black people, even though I’m black, because we have a serious division amongst our ranks.

I could write a book, and I have, about the war currently being waged internally among blacks in our nation.

Since I don’t have the space to get into it here, let me give you the Cliff Notes version.

The black community is divided into two distinct groups.

Because certain words are pretty much off-limits for this publication, I will describe the two groups in a nice tidy manner: ‘those who care’ and ‘those who don’t care’.

In this day and age, anyone who still thinks that school uniforms are a bad idea just doesn’t get what school is all about.

‘Those who care’ understand that school is a place you send your children to get educated so they will have the opportunity to pursue whatever dreams and aspirations they desire.

‘Those who don’t care’ think that school is a place you go to show off your new Timberlands and cell phones.

‘Those who care’ can appreciate the uniform standard for children because they are aware of the fact that children can easily fall victim to peer pressure.

Juveniles want to impress their friends, so much so that an individual may commit acts of desperation to procure items that will make them cool and attractive.

Many times those acts are criminal in nature and could easily affect the future of that individual.

It would be a shame for someone to lose their freedom or even worse, their life, over a pair of boots or a gold chain.

Yet, ‘those who don’t care’ are often willing to chance that result for a brief moment of glory and adulation.

School uniforms are implemented by educational systems to eliminate, or at the very least downplay that dynamic.

‘Those who don’t care’ still succumb to peer pressure, even as adults, and use their children to create the illusion of success by dressing them up in expensive clothes and accessories.

This culture of materialism that has saturated, or rather decimated the black community, is the root cause for most of the crime committed by ‘those who don’t care’.

Because ‘those who don’t care’ didn’t apply themselves when they were students, they end up working unfulfilling jobs for most of their lives and buying expensive items well beyond their means is a way of re-establishing their pride.

How many people do you know whose rims on their vehicle are worth more than their homes?

Quite a few I bet.

Last year I attended the welcome reception for RCCC President Dr. Ralph Soney.

That event was attended by a wide representation of local black leaders, to include politicians, business owners and school officials, the people who actually make decisions for the community.

There was not a single pair of Nike Air Force One’s or a single set of gold teeth in the building.

When I stepped outside, there was not a single vehicle with spinning rims, or a television in the headrest.

When ‘those that care’ see a black celebrity on television that can actually afford some of these luxuries, they understand that those high dollar items are something to indulge in after you have worked hard to escape from an impoverished background.

When ‘those that don’t care’ see the same celebrities, they are driven to get the same things at any and all costs to try to make people believe that they aren’t really poor.

The attitude among ‘those that don’t care’ is that some of the excessiveness displayed by certain blacks is just &uot;black culture&uot;, hogwash.

Lil’ John, Young Jeezy, Trina and Jay-Z didn’t put in any work or sacrifice to create a world where a black person could feel free to even shop where nice things are sold.

Our freedom was created by people like Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

‘Those that care’ acknowledge this and try to represent themselves and their entire community in a manner that would make Dr. King proud to have given his life for our future.

‘Those that don’t care’ couldn’t tell you who Thurgood Marshall was and believe that the fantasy videos on BET every afternoon are achievable goals by someone working at the local car wash.

Today’s economic climate is indeed putting a strain on many poor families who would find it difficult finding the money to outfit their children with new clothes, uniforms or not.

I’m a father and I’m far from rich, so I know how expensive raising children can be, but that’s not an excuse to ‘not care’.

Unfortunately, I’m preaching to the choir because ‘those that don’t care’ will never see this article since they don’t like to read.

That’s why they’re complaining about what to wear to school instead of what to do when they get there.