Cultural Conversations #4: School & Work

As problematic as T.I. is, he had the idea for a TV show on BET. The premise of the show is/was to find out which is better: classic education or street smarts. When I saw this, I wanted to start screaming. This is another form of classism and elitism. Why?

I’m glad you asked.

I have college educated parents. I have a mother that loved books, loves reading, learning and in a last life, she wanted to be a teacher. I had a father that made sure I could write my name and read by 5! I, myself, am dual-degreed and thinking about grad school. I am the mother of gifted children, whose gifts I speak to on a regular basis. Yet, some of the smartest people I have ever come across don’t even have high school educations. With this pandemic, I have remembered the things all the older people in my life have pour into me that has prepared me to survive! You have to understand that learning is eternal, intelligence is not quantified as one thing, and to have a degree does not make you better than someone else!

With that said, I come from a family that values education. Yet, even though I value education–I understand that ‘school ain’t for everyone.’ Yet, even with that, in that, those without that higher education shouldn’t make those with it a target! Don’t you know this a form of classism? You can’t keep telling yourself “Who do they think they are? Going to college don’t make them better than me!” Yes, you’re right! But you cannot knock those that want a college education, want those opportunities that it brings! Conversely, you cannot shame the people that want to go to trade schools, start their own businesses right out of high school with no desire for an MBA–with more sense than a board of folk with MBA’s!

It was my grandmother, with her 8th grade education, who showed me how to survive, garden and be observant of the world around me. It was my college educated father that told me the value of reading, being confident in my intelligence, and using my voice do what I know is supposed to be done! The thing is just like it was in the antebellum portion of history, so it is now!

Education is a tool of achievement and to others its been divisive!

If you get an education, and go around certain (read: white) people, it is seems that the expectations that follow Negro expectionalism apply! They (read: certain white people) don’t understand ‘why everyone doesn’t go to college?’ I would be here all day and until Jesus’s return talking about this!

Everyone should be able to go to college, yes. College should be affordable enough for everyone to go! Yet, there are some people that just don’t want to go! And that is okay. Just like you should be shamed for going to college, you shouldn’t be shamed for not going! We need to normalize the not going to college, as well as going to college! We have to take the stigma off education. There are people that enjoy working with their hands, or doing hair, or fixing cars! It is okay to let people pursue the things they desire–which, too, make them money!

Intelligence is not just ascribed to what’s in a book! It cannot be limited to what can be found in a book. And not all intelligence is associated with common sense! With that, stop telling people (read: Black folk) that to be educated is to try and be white! That is toxic and further emphasizes this divide between the decision vs. the availability to college right out of high school!

There are so many variables between education and achievements. This dovetails nicely into those who decide later in life to go to college, or send their grandchildren. It happens! We must be able to become more understanding of one another, even baring in mind what F. Scott Fitzgerald said when in The Great Gatsby: not everybody had has the same opportunities as anyone else!

We cannot be caught up in such a minor thing when we have white supremacy to dismantle! And we need everyone working together to do so–whether that be driving the car, giving lectures, fixing the meals that we eat after, writing books, opening businesses, mentoring who need it, and giving hair cuts after! We need everyone on deck just like the Avengers in Endgame!

Degreed or no degree–we are all in this together! On my watch, we aint leavin no one behind.