Junior High and High Schoolers: Think About Your Future! by E. LeMay Lathan

As another school year begins and thoughts of skipping class and missing lessons dance in your minds, think of the consequences. You are no longer little kids being sent off to the cruel confines of school by your parents. You are now young men and women preparing for your futures.

Make no mistake about it – the burden of learning falls squarely on your shoulders. Sure, you can claim your parents are mean and rotten, that they pay no attention to you, that your neighborhood and community are forsaken by businesses and there is an absence of positive role models, but your outcome is still your own responsibility. Instead of buying the excuses about why school doesn’t prepare you for life, look towards the students achieving good grades and going to college. Those hard-working students will be our future leaders.

But what about the jobs that make this country run – the everyday jobs done by people like your parents, neighbors and myself? Ninety percent or more of you will be employed in those routine jobs. While you may be part of this group, you will have a better attitude and more ambition to improve your chances of finding and keeping meaningful employment if you are more educated.

You will find, for the most part, that people who choose their own line of work and prepare for it are far happier than those in a career that was the only thing open to them. This applies to both professional and non-professional jobs. The big difference between them is that professionals have been formally trained for their positions, meaning they have pursued higher education to specifically prepare for a certain job.

Now is the time for you to think seriously about your future. How do you turn what you enjoy doing most into a career? What is your career wish? What direction do you choose to follow? These are the questions you need to ponder in your junior high and high school years. You must think of where things are going to take you and what certain classes will mean to your future.

Remember, you are creating our futures as well as your own. Without youth to carry on, our society will fall apart. The very foundation of this country depends on your success. Each and every one of you have a pivotal part to play in the future – to create life, sustain that life and ensure those lives will carry on after you. And someday it will be your job to raise and nurture children in ways that bring out the most positive attitudes possible. Learning must be done by example. If you were given bad examples, it by no means absolves you from your responsibility of providing good ones when your time comes. Life is not a free ride.

You have a major part to play, and some very mindful responsibilities to live up to. When the call comes, will you stand and be a part of the solution or a part of the problem? I have faith in you to be a part of the solution.

I do not wish to offend you with this letter. Rather, I’d like to have it make you think a little harder about the things that will guide your life. I want you to be the best you can.

If doing my job as a parent makes my son live up to his responsibilities and become a part of the solution, can I not expect the same from other parents? We soon-to-be-middle-agers expect the next generation to pull its weight and continue the traditions this country was founded upon. We may expect more from you than we did from ourselves, and will never accept less. As you grow and mature, you too will come to the belief that your children will be capable of much more than you. And you will come to expect it. At that moment you will understand, and become your parents.

Scary thought, huh?

Sincerely yours,

E. LeMay Lathan, Parent


(E. LeMay Lathan is a member of Project 21 and author of the book The Black Man’s Guide to Working in a White Man’s World. He can be reached at [email protected].)

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

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.