I must admit that those of us who have found their life’s calling in teaching all recognize that it is simultaneously a gift and a curse from God. On the one hand we are the foundation of all that occurs in this world, there is no idea, gadget, thought, vaccine, or invention that some educator did not have a hand in. However, being an educator is trying at most times. I would argue that such lifting is more difficult for non-white educators who live in a world that discounts their very existence and promises untold challenges for those who sit in our classes on a daily basis.
Quite possibly the most frustrating aspect of being an African-American educator is the reality that our students more times than not ignore the curriculum and life lessons that are being presented to them, I guess that it is true that ‘youth is wasted on the young.’ However, educators fight through the emotions of being ignored.
Our reward for such diligence is when someone, does not even have to be our student, ‘gets it’. Meaning is receptive to and applies the lessons that educators have been attempting to pour into them. Any educator will tell you that this is a high that not even adrenaline can match; however, this moment is rare, fleeting, and satisfying. So educators know to grab hold of it when it appears.
This morning on a local radio station, The Mad Hatta Morning Show interviewed Chamillionaire, an artist that shocked many by disappearing from public life at the apex of his popularity. Previous exposure to individuals in the Chamilitary camp had led me to not only expect Chamillionaire’s ‘disappearance’, but also anticipate his re-appearance in an unlikely venue. Put simply, Chamillionaire, and those around him, was a serious gust of fresh air in a rap game that offered different aerosol cans of the same putrid air.
I was not surprised to hear Chamillionaire relate that he had not left the entire music scene behind; rather, he diversified his relationship to the music industry and life in general. This young man has spent his time away from the music industry not only learning about investment opportunities in the technology field, but also developing relationships with key figures in that arena. It has been Chamillionaire’s ability to escape the stifling straight-jacket existence that we so often place African-American youth in that has allowed him to view, understand, and engage ‘non-traditional’ activities and opportunities.
After listening to Chamillionaire’s entire interview, several things stood out, arguably the most important of these was his perspective of the difference between rich and wealthy. Chamillionaire related that for those who are seeking the power that bountifully flows from money; they should abandon the rap game and pursue opportunities in the tech industry. He humorously related that the rap game will only allow you to get a car and a few gold chains As a notable rap artist and emerging technology investor/participant, there is much weight that follows Chamillionaire’s assertion that he only met one rap star who had anything approaching wealth, that individual was Ludacris. To drive home the wealth that could be garnered via technology, Chamillionaire related a relationship he developed with an individual who came up with a tech idea that he developed from free information that anyone can find on Google that yielded him 2 billion dollars ($2,000,000,000.00).
The mindset that Chamillionaire has developed facilitated his maturation from someone who seeks to be an NBA/NFL player, the goal of too many African-American males, to one who seeks to be the owner of a NBA/NFL franchise, the goal of not enough African-American males. So it is with a bountiful glee that I celebrate Chamillionaire’s growth into a ‘techie’ and I pray that more and more African-Americans follow his path into the technology field.
James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D.
© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015.