Archive for September, 2016

09/08/2016

So Ambitious…

Earlier on in the year, I was doing a gender workshop with some young men in the peer education program I used to supervise in. Now one of my favorite sessions to do when I pull this series out is to talk about gender roles. We really got into it that day, talking about stuff they saw in their neighborhood, how to be real men, etc. At the end, they made a really nice PSA about gun violence that I was quiet proud of.
I’ve always liked to do this session on gender roles just to see what’s new and what are unfortunately timeless themes. I’m always amazed at how the timeless stuff gets repackaged, but more importantly, how strong the ambition is in our boys.
Now we all push our girls. That makes sense – we still live on a very patriarchal society. As a man with strong gender equality views, I’m all for that. But I’m also all for nurturing the ambitions of our young men too. The roadblocks they face in some cases are still as enormous as they’ve always been. Still, sometimes the difference between two very talented young men of color in oppressive socioeconomic and cultural situations being successful isn’t the strength of their talents or ambitions – it’s about the protective factors in place to cultivate success.
I remember one of the young men who has a yuge Afro mentioned how he had to learn to be a man on his own. This is a very, very common refrain. So where are they learning? What have they been learning? Because some of the stuff is helpful and some is garbage. But if you don’t have the filters in place to tell what’s “good” and “junk”, what do you truly learn? I clearly have not all the answers. But the one thing I’ve believed is that for all the flak and grief we give millennials these days, there is one thing we really don’t have to question – their ambition levels.
So the question is: what are we really doing to nurture these ambitions?
09/05/2016

The Solitary One

As the regulars know in these parts, on my 9-5 I’ve been working with millennials for the better part of the past decade. It’s been a very fun and interesting experience. The one thing I can say unequivocally is that this is one of the lonelier generations around.

WTF?

Well, hear me out for a second. Yes, there’s social media. Yes, in the right positions you can argue that there’s a lot more freedom of movement and a shrinking of the global community makes it easier to see other things. But, millennials are still a bit more lonely than you think. Look more closely. You see people delaying children – or forgoing in some cases – for careers and higher education opportunities. People have to work a lot harder than ever in order to maintain their current standards of living. Which means contact with others are limited to very narrow channels – much of it is through social media.

It’s amazing to see that for me growing up, I was so used to playing in the streets in the summer with friends…being one with my environment. Now, in those days some may say I wasn’t in the bushes exploring as much as others…but hey, I put in my time. I was amazed at how wide-eyed some of the youth I worked with would act when we took them away on a weekend camping trip.

Now, this isn’t an indictment of millennials. They’re playing by slightly different rules because their environment is vastly different than what I saw in my day. Still, the increased access to technology and singular focus on survival really constraints interactions. I like social media but it has some very toxic elements fueled by its incessant usage as a major millennial outlet.

So where do we go from here? Well, I’m not sure. I often get in a back and forth about appropriate social media usage to teens, which is about as helpful sometimes as watching a Trump speech. Still, it ultimately it to millennials to shape their own future as others have done before them. Still, the only real cure for loneliness is the company of another…face to face, not faces in screens while sitting next to each other…

 

09/02/2016

“Ugh! Do I HAVE to Vote in November?”

Well, the title says it all, doesn’t it?

Honestly, I cannot tell the last time I was so apathetic about the US Presidential election. I can tell you growing up, i was this apathetic all the time as that political environment made what I’m seeing in the US somewhat tame in comparison in some areas. These two candidates are train wrecks in their own right, for sure. Really, they are. One is not the most trustworthy, and in the other one we can surely trust that something inflammatory will be uttered with impeccably inopportune timing.

So what do you do when you have to do when you’re forced to choose between sleeping on a rock and a hard place? You learn to sleep with one eye open and never get too comfortable where you lay.

Look, I’m not saying that any of the others who dropped out were any better. Yes, you can argue that maybe one or two candidates who have done better in a different geopolitical climate. But the truth is, we are where we are – and these are the two idiots we’re stuck with. I’ve heard people talking about how Mrs. Clinton should win very easily. I’ve always scoffed about that, simply because I’m looking at the bigger problems ahead. It isn’t about winning the election, it’s about running the country going forward.

Mr. Obama ran a very good first election and for the next 8 years ran into the roadblock that was an uncooperative Congress. Now he DID make some mistakes along the way, but the truth is that much of those foes are still there. So it’s not like Mrs. Clinton will have an easier time if she gets elected. And if Mr. Trump gets in, he’ll face similar opposition, albeit for different reasons.

So folks, go out and vote. Watch the debates, screen through the political spin carefully and do your thorough research. Then decide which of the lesser of these two ills you’re more likely to stomach. Because if you’ve got the power to vote, you don’t get to complain when things really go sideways since you stayed on the sidelines due to terrible candidates.

 

 

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