Monday, July 2, 2007

Education through Refutation, Introducing Louis

The great thing about having a co-author is not to have an extra person to write half the book, but to have someone to think with the other side of the book's brain. In other words, having a co-author ensures the book isn't written with only one side of the issue, topic or argument in mind. Friends and colleagues, the long-awaited arrival of Dr. Louis Harrison to this blog. Read on...

"The points you made are similar to those of (Bill) Cosby. While I don't disagree that African-American parents of kids who use this kind of language lie at the heart of this problem. It is often easy to point fingers at the cause of our problems, but this doesn't give rise to solutions.

Okay, so it's true that some kids have parents who are less than desirable (to put it lightly). These kids, through no fault of their own grow up in a less than desirable environment and can only function in ways and exhibit behaviors that they have experienced. If those of us who have made it out, or were fortunate to have never been in such an environment, simply disengage, these young people may never have an opportunity to realize that there is a better way to express themselves. If all they experience is deficient parenting, deficient schooling, and are perceived as deficient by the larger society, there is little chance for climbing out of a deficient and dysfunctional environment.

Let’s point the fingers in all directions, not just at parents. Let’s point at a society that will send its least prepared and least successful teachers to inner city schools upon which they spend the least money. Let’s point fingers at an entertainment industry that promotes and glorifies those who spew the negative language into African-American communities, while those who's rap lyrics promote positive messages are virtually ignored. Let's point fingers at a society that will immediately cheer on a successful African-American athlete while minimizing the accomplishments of African-American scholars, businessmen, attorneys, engineers, teachers, physicians, ...

Let's point the finger at us, middle-class African Americans who look upon poor African Americans with disdain when we ourselves are only a generation or two (or a paycheck or two) away from poverty. Let's point the finger at a society that operates as if racism no longer exists and points to African -merican athletes as evidence of equal access to the American dream. Let's point a finger at a society that tells young African-American kids that everything about them, their color, their language, their attire, their hairstyle, their music, their home environment, their values, their perspective on life,... it's all wrong, its all negative; and that they must assimilate (act white) to be acceptable.

Let's stop pointing fingers only at impotent parents and start reaching a hand to their children, even if they don't want your hand. Let's give these young people a chance to see that there is a better way to live, that there is hope if their dreams are given direction, that there are opportunities if they prepare themselves. I know this to be true because I am here.

Thank God you were raised in a positive environment. Others of us have not been so fortunate. Nothing personal, just my two cents."

-Louis Harrison, Ph.D.

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