While I definitely agree with the overall theme in the article, one of the things that jumped out to me was the fact that this is not an issue just for African-American teens. We need to be teaching all young people across all cultures the importance of investing in the communities they grow up in while they are there.
Here are five reasons why I believe we should teach all teens focus on impact in their communities versus escaping them:
- Awareness: When youth don't have an escapism mentality they will become more aware and sensitive to the issues the see around them. They also will begin to dig deeper to look at root causes and not just accept surface answers or reasons as to why things are the way they are.
- Perspective: One's perspective changes in a positive way when they become more aware of the root cause of issues around them. Usually a change in perspective leads to a change in behavior.
- Ownership: Have a long-term perspective of living somewhere gives youth a greater sense of investment in place where they are living. The more that they are invested in their community, the more proactive (vs. passive) they will be in protecting what they view as valuable.
- Resource: When youth develop a deeper awareness, greater sense of ownership, and a broader perspective of their communities they can then become a resource by using their time, talents, treasures (money), and thoughts (creative ideas) for the benefit of others. They become valuable assets who contribute to solving problems and positively impacting lives.
- Influence: This attribute is usually built over time based on respect gained through demonstrated character and accomplishments. Youth who grow up and contribute to the betterment of their communities are able to leverage their reputations and contributions to lead others in significant ways, including financially and policy.
Youth are often overlooked and undervalued as community development assets. However, they are in the perfect position to become positive change agents. If we can get them to see it in themselves, maybe we can turn more communities around.
Read the full article, Teach black students they can change communities, here: http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/jul/07/teach-black-students-change-communities-not-escape