Black conservative commentary

 

How to "Make It" in America


by Geoffrey Moore

 

A New Visions Commentary paper published January 2004 by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited.

Black America has a growing problem that needs to be addressed. It is, in my opinion, the most persistent problem facing us as a race in this country. Despite what "our" media-appointed black leaders tell us, this problem is not racism, reparations, affirmative action, President Bush or the Confederate Battle Flag. It's attitude.

Overall, we have terrible attitudes. If we want our situation to change, our attitudes will have to lead the way. Many of our so-called leaders would like us to believe that we as individuals have absolutely no control over our lives. They want us to think that the only way blacks will escape from our predicament is to continue to support them and let them maintain their bases of power. It's in their financial interest that we continue to view ourselves as powerless victims.

I want to tell those willing to listen that the described situation need not be the only outcome. We all have the power and ability to take control of our lives and indeed make it.

I have thought hard about these things, and share the steps that will all-but-guarantee one can make it:

Go to school. Getting an education is essential to any success one can achieve. Working hard in school, however, is something that has been demonized in many of our neighborhoods. Beginning in elementary school, pay attention and acquire the most basic skills necessary to succeed. What amazes me is that - less than 150 years ago - our ancestors faced death if they tried to learn to read. Today, with education open and encouraged, some of our children act like they would rather face death than learn to read.

Get a job. It seems some lower-level jobs are beneath many of us. I've heard it said that people don't want to work for minimum wage. What many don't realize is that a minimum wage job is not supposed to be permanent. Once one acquires skills and experience, they will naturally work themselves above a minimum wage level job. Very few people become millionaires overnight.

Plan your family. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention data, nearly 70 percent of black children are born out of wedlock! Children from single-parent homes are more likely to live in poverty, drop out of school and spend time in prison. That's no way to give your children a head start. Kids raised in two-parent households generally do much better. While it's no fault of the children, more often than not, they bear the brunt of bad situations. Furthermore, having children at an early age can put a hurdle in front of your own goals. Women who have children in high school are more likely to drop out and have less earning potential.

Be fiscally responsible. Whether it is a home, 401(K) retirement plan, stocks, mutual funds or just a basic savings account, one should learn to save, sacrifice and invest. It saddens me every time I see poor parents struggling to buy their kids the latest pair of $90 shoes or $50 shirts. We need to break the mentality of keeping up with the Joneses. We don't need the newest car, the flashiest jewelry and weekly hair and nail treatments. This leads many down the road to overextending their finances, and it can create credit issues. Just because one has the money right now doesn't mean it has to spent right now.

Follow these steps and you will see that it is not that difficult to succeed. I'm not saying it's easy, but a little discipline, a positive attitude and hard work will take you far.

We need to take control of our lives and stop relying on people who are for more of the same programs that have done tremendous detriment to the black community. We need to stop being victims. This formula transcends racial, gender and religious lines.

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(Geoffrey Moore is a member of the National Advisory Council of the African-American leadership network Project 21, and an MBA student and marketing analyst in the Chicago area. Comments may be sent to [email protected].)


Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.

 


 

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