Slow Your Roll, Son!!!!!!!!!!!!

By Dr. Boyce Watkins, BASN Contributor,
Updated: February 4, 2011

NEW YORK (BASN) — In this episode of our segment called “What the Hayell,” I lay out some honest thoughts and facts about all the black boys who grow up wanting to be football or basketball players. This is a media-created epidemic that leads to far too many young men throwing away their futures for an athletic dream that will likely turn into a serious nightmare. I met a 16-year old kid who was about to drop out of high school. He couldn’t read well enough to understand a billboard or menu at McDonald’s. He’d already been arrested as a juvenile and didn’t have a job. I asked the kid about his future and what he wanted to do with his life. He said, “I wanna be a football player.” What was most interesting about the kid’s remark is that he wasn’t very tall or athletic. He’d never even played organized sports. But somehow, based on what he’d seen on television and how he’d come to define his role models, he made the interesting decision to pursue the NFL as his future career. Roughly two years later, he was in prison for armed robbery. The fixation that many black boys have on becoming athletes and entertainers is a partnership between the media (which is far more likely to feature an African American providing entertainment than one providing serious and intellectual discourse), the school system (which marginalizes black boys at an early age, making education undesirable to them), and all of us (who are more likely to show up for a child’s basketball game than for a PTA meeting). This perfect storm of black male self-destruction leads to far too many black boys not growing up with a chance to become productive black men: A man who is unemployed, incarcerated and/or uneducated has a hard time being a good husband or father to anyone. We must change the way we raise our boys if we are going to save our community. Black History Month is a perfect time to start breaking the cycle.