I was recently speaking with one of my best friends who has not only ascended to the apex of his current profession, the brother is a chaplain, but also is pursuing other interests and conquering other goals. Someway, somehow, our conversation turned toward our collective frustrations regarding our African-American contemporaries who have chosen to undercut each and every opportunity available to them via a lack of personal responsibility and effort.
The conversation reminded me of one that I often have with students who desire a graduate degree. I tell such individuals that it is my job to guide them through the steps to gain admission to graduate school, it is a path that I have successfully completed several times, however, it is their job to capitalize upon every opportunity that presents itself once they are admitted. I have come to learn that very few of my students, particularly the males, will accomplish that task for several preventable reasons.
I have seen so many brilliant African-American males curtail a glorious future by seeking inclusion in what can only be termed a dysfunctional culture — marijuana, guns, alcohol, women, and fear — that has never produced positive results for anyone.
The latest to fall prey to the seemingly irresistible urge to work against their interests is Trevone Boykin, the Quarterback for Texas Christian University (TCU). Boykin and teammate Preston Miller left their hotel after midnight curfew and ultimately found themselves being heckled by bar patrons; this situation led to a fight that ultimately resulted in Boykin’s arrest for assaulting a public servant (a 3rd degree felony). Both Boykin and Miller have been sent home from the bowl game.
Predictably, Boykin, has issued an apology containing the following statement “words can’t describe how sorry I am” to the entire TCU community and vowed to make amends and regain their trust. What Boykin, and droves of other African-American males, fail to realize is that an admission to being ‘sorry’ is not an apology, it is a declaration, and fails to magically restore wasted opportunities.
How many times have we seen African-American males fumble great opportunities before admitting that they are ‘sorry’ and desire additional opportunities? In a world that has proven unforgiving to African-American males for even the slightest misstep, the squandering of opportunities — economic, social, political, academic — should be considered unconscionable.
Although there is most certainly no doubt that discrimination and racism serve as obstacles in the career pursuits of African-American males, the truth of the matter is that we are routinely taking steps to guarantee that we remain in the position of the ‘have-nots’ by failing drug tests, consciously choosing to not pursue academics with the utmost seriousness, and culturally investing in a dysfunctional way of life that ruins the lives of all that we contact.
Trevone Boykin is little more than yet another example of how so many African-American males have become experts at shooting themselves in the foot; unfortunately, Boykin will most certainly not be the last.
James Thomas Jones III
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016