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Your Words Shape Your Destiny

family preparing food in the kitchen

Only you can tell you who you are. You are free, not colonized, you are a solution, not a problem, you are your ancestor’s accomplishment, not a failure. Speak it and don’t accept anything less my beloved Africana people.

I think the oppressors whose narratives have shaped this country are very aware of how words can shape reality. When they put out statistics on populations, they speak in the future, the unknown, and people use those words to determine their destinies. “By 2021, 25% of Black men will be imprisoned”, well, how do they know? Is it their plan? Is it their way of distracting? I just know that I hear Black people say, especially when discussing their goals or their children’s goals “I don’t want to be that statistic” or “I’m not raising him to be a statistic” – they live to do everything to avoid that statistic, instead of just living their calling. The one thing I hate is when parents say, “I’m just glad he has a job, not in jail”, is jail the benchmark? Why are we bringing jail into this? Is he a great debater who can be a successful lawyer? Is he great at building things and can be a great engineer? Is he a great artist that can be a designer? I believe living in the affirmative can help people achieve their goals way more, instead of avoiding things – the benchmark should be your goals. My dad spoke in the affirmative to me, he always told me what I’m good at and what I could be based on what I’m good at. You want to know why I’m so confident? Because my dad let me explore all my talents and made sure I knew my goals were valid. He said, “you want to be a teacher? just own the school”. I wasn’t raised to not be something; I was raised to be something.

I know that no matter what, racism is there, and that no matter what I achieve, racists will be racists in a country built on racism. I am not saying that achieving your goals will eliminate racism. I am saying that keeping ourselves and our goals as the focus, not damaging narratives from a people that has historically misrepresented us, will put us in better positions to make change amongst ourselves and our communities. I am not successful to avoid jail because an oppressive statistic said my people end up in jail. I am successful because I achieve the ideas in my head and don’t worry about any other narratives. I took statistics in undergrad and grad, trust me, I don’t believe in statistics the way that others do, I know they are used to shape narratives and instill fear in many cases. In my career, statistics have been used to damage the esteem of students that I have worked with and had to defend. Example: I had a job teaching literacy to students, the corporation had a goal, and benchmarks. When the goal of students enrolled wasn’t achieved, they changed the rules. I had students that were past their grade level, but we were told that they should stay in the program anyway because “they can use help anyway” based on the population they were in that is “low-income” Black community. However, the program was for students who were struggling, and all the students knew that. When a student entered that room, it meant they couldn’t read pretty much, and other students would laugh at that. I fought it and eventually chose my morals over damaging a student’s esteem to help a company achieve a goal. Manipulating a child to make them believe they have an issue when they don’t just wasn’t on my list of things to do. I had students that would enter the program, surpass all benchmarks and still were told they needed the program. Then the company put out statistics to say they helped all these low-income students achieve their goals when in reality, a fraction of those students actually needed help. You see how the numbers game works? It’s all tied to money. “If I can make these low-income people believe that they have a problem, I can make money by solving the problem”, is essentially the model of these “statistics” that they put out.

The power of words is critical. Define yourself, lessen the noise. Challenge every teacher that tries to label your child. I was the only Black student in my kindergarten class where they tried to label me, and my dad fought it – and won. In my career I have watched parents be taken advantage of, knowing well their kids had no problem, and the parents who fight, win. I don’t care what your teacher or your family told you, those ideas in you are valid. If you have an idea it came to you for a reason. Plan out the execution of that, tell yourself you are going to do it, and be part of the statistic that says “you will achieve your goals”. It really is that easy friends.

Amen.

Join me for the Dear Black People series where I teach people strategies to achieve this very thing. You receive years’ worth of research, references, personal follow up, and password access to zoom course upon completion, you don’t want to miss it! Check out details and register here, or below.

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