How often do we ask Black school students this question? “Are you on the honor roll?” The Black community does not ask this question enough. A lot of Black people and organizations do very good work supporting Black education. This should be applauded. But we can and must do much more. We must do the groundwork to facilitate our many programs and projects.
When you see Black students in public ask them, “Are you on the honor roll?” Whenever they say “Yes, I am,” congratulate and encourage them. When they say “No, I am not,” ask them why not and encourage them to strive to excel.
This conversation must go on in the home, the streets, the church, mosques, at parties, grocery shopping, on public transit, everywhere. We must make Black youth know that the Black community demands that they must excel in school. We must put Black students, their parents, the school district, and ourselves on notice and on the spot.
Like any popular campaign it must evolve over time. It must, however, be a community effort. It does not require everyone’s participation to succeed. But it must be a collective community effort. Get your family, friends and associates to join in. And remember this conversation must also take place among adults and among youth. We must this a major topic of black conversation.
And the Black community must, without any apology, take the credit for initiating the campaign and not let the school district, city hall, the news media, and liberal or conservative White people dictate what the campaign is or should do. Black people must control what we say to each other.
When was the last time Black people told White people what to say to other White people? When was the first time? That’s the time White folks can define and dictate this campaign to us.
Originally published January 12, 2009