Commentary: Read to Me

by David Brox, davidbrox@shukc.com

I am a big fan of debate and lively conversation.  I like to jump in on controversial topics and in some cases argue points that I don’t necessarily believe in.  All in an effort to stimulate thoughts and provoke conversation.  Some times these conversations happen on Facebook and I ran across a post that asked a question and I am paraphrasing.

Are low income black people no better off today than they were just after the civil rights laws passed?

Without a second of thought I jumped right in and said of course it is.  It is possible for anyone today to succeed and achieve their goals.  I have plenty of examples of people I know personally that are successful and are doing big things in their lives.  Again I didn’t commit to an incredible amount of thought to my answer.  I didn’t have stats or numbers to back up my claims.  Just a thought that if I was able to graduate from high school, college and earn a good living that it had to be “better”.

At this point I got schooled.  I do not know the young lady but she owned me in my jaded way of thinking.  Perhaps I was blind to the fact that my accomplishments or ones of my friends doesn’t necessarily mean things are “better”.  I have probably spent more time thinking this through than I should but the conversation hit home with me.  Sure I am an example of what is possible but by no means is my situation or that of many peers of mine the rule, sadly we are the exception.  It took me some time but I started digging into it a bit and the first quote that hit me was this.

“More than 72 percent of children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock.”

Don Lemon on Saturday, July 27th, 2013 in a commentary on CNN

I read this and thought no way that is possible but dug further and there are stats out there that show this to be factual.  My parents were married but divorced when I was very young.  I was raised along with 2 brothers and a sister primarily by my mother on 10th and Freeman in KCK.  Early on we were on welfare and needless to say struggled.  What I have miscalculated through out my life is that I beat long odds.

How?

I am certain the turning point for me was being in the second class of Project Choice.  I had just been assured a scholarship to continue my education.  The odds that I was going to college short of having that opportunity are slim to none.  I literally got my first taste of a silver spoon being shoved in my mouth.  Another miscalculation in my life however was not seeing again that I have beaten some long odds.  I certainly was not the only one that was a part of that Project Choice class but I would guess the graduation rate with what essentially was a full ride was low.  I don’t have the data but I saw a good number come and go from K-State and miss that opportunity.

Sure it is great for me.  I made it and I can’t tell you how many times I have seen kids from the city with a sole desire to get out of the situation they are in.  There is much debate about seeing talent leave the city for an increased chance of success.  This was no more clearer to me than what I watched Friday night at Mill Valley.  Our two Future Prospect in 2015 Daniel Jackson and Brison Cobbins flat dominated for Bishop Miege.  I could not be happier for them and the success they are finding.  Both are likely on a path to a scholarship to get an opportunity at a free education.  In my old way of thinking this is great news.  Two kids beating the odds and finding success.  My new way of thinking however has changed and I ask this question.

Is anything “better” if you have to defeat long odds to succeed?

Nothing in life is guaranteed.  Statistically speaking though I would gladly take a 8 out of 10 chance than 5 out of 10.  I love what I do with SHUKC and while I am not able to do as much as I have done in the past I still enjoy following the students.  Getting to talk and provide some small amount of advice in hopes of helping secure scholarship opportunities is gratifying.  I have however decided that it isn’t enough and while I can’t fix everything there are some other things I could be doing to help.

I have been tweeting and on our Facebook page talking about book drives and a possible event to have current and former student athletes participate.  Not only would participating in an event like this be good for the community but good for your college resume.  I have latched on to reading and I want to try and engage with 1st – 3rd grade students to read and provide books for them.  Details to come as I work on some contacts in the community.  I would love to hear from teachers, parents of young kids and anyone else with ideas and thoughts on how we can in a small way try to help.  I want to dedicate time to this effort and if I can leverage my relationships with the sports teams to help provide some interaction with athletes and the kids, then it will be well worth it.

All feedback is welcome.

 

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