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5 Questions: About OUR Youth and Communities...

5 Questions…

Whenever I have an issue with the climate of my classroom, I give my students a short lecture on the issue and tell them how things work in the real world.

For example, if my students are constantly breaking the rule “Follow directions the first time given,” I show them how it's important in the real world. I told them how I used to have a problem speeding, until I began shelling out hundreds of dollars on tickets, just to show them that there are consequences for our actions.

After my spew, I open the floor for 5 questions, before we start our first lesson. The goal of this activity is for students to ask questions about my concerns and why it’s important in our classroom. What usually happens is that they ask the same questions, we asked adults as kids.

That in mind, I have 5 questions for my readers to just think about.

1) What is a Community?

I was Born 1987, as a member of the Highland Park Community. I witnessed the last years of Mighty Michigan and the glory days of the inner city communities. I experienced how a community functioned. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was operable none the less.

Community, as defined by

a. A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.

b. A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Let's look at the two definitions a little closer…

a. "A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.“

Regardless of where you’re from, the inner city or the suburbs, the people around you in the neighborhoods, schools, grocery stores, churches, sporting events, parties, concerts, protests and the list goes on and on, are the people in YOUR COMMUNITY!

The common characteristics shared within our communities, is that they belong to THE PEOPLE.

b. ”A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.“

Being from Highland Park, I take a lot of heat because of the current state of the city. As a native son, I defend my hometown to the fullest extent, whenever I feel that it’s being attacked. The reason that I’m so defensive/passionate about my hometown is because it was a community when I was growing up.

There was a sense of fellowship. People actually cared about the community and the issues it faced. I lived between the City Council President and the school system’s Superintendent in addition to having educated parents. I didn’t see a lot of people talking about the problems, I saw people fixing them.

The fellowship in Highland Park and other inner cities around America, especially in the 1960s-1990s were formed because the people who made up these communities had common:

Attitudes- To make our communities a safe, resourceful and memorable for our growing youth.

Interest- We all have passions. Whatever you’re most passionate about, do it to the best of your ability so that the people watching you, know how to handle business when it’s their turn.

Goals- The goal of every community SHOULD be, to make sure it's a better place for upcoming generations.

2) What happened to OUR communities?

What happened to our communities is that too many people are so focused on getting out, they forget to give back. Many people have gone off to do great things from many of our most economically depressed cities across the US.

The problem arises when these people don’t recognize their influence and never bring awareness to the issues of the communities that raised them. When I say people don’t give back, I’m not just talking about corporate America.

As an inner city product, I am also aware of the underground professionals. It’s not something I neither agree with, nor condone but I’m not ignorant of the activity either.

For those who specialize in growing things, start a garden, for the community, especially for the lost mothers and fathers who choose to starve because they decided to feed a bad habit, instead of their children. These are real life issues. Pick a holiday to give back to the fallen communities. Nino Brown was a fictitious gangster in a movie, but even he passed out turkeys at Thanksgiving time.


Violence in the community has got to give. When I was growing up, the highest form of violence its youth faced, left you with a couple bruises, or a cut or two at most. The only severely violent crimes that took place, were usually drug related.

Nowadays it seems as if everyone has and too many, use them recklessly, which shines a negative light on the hobbyist. Or the father protecting his family.

Movie theaters, Schools and barber shops are all places that should be safeguarded, not invaded by our own kind. It’s not people from outside the community who’s destroying them; it’s the people within it.

Our youth sees these demonic activities happen regularly. While it may seem foreign to older generations, it’s becoming the norm for current youngsters which is the problem.

3) What happened to OUR youth?

Our youth no longer have role models or real models within reach. Seeing my neighbor pull up in a BMW everyday motivated me. It showed me that it was possible, to "make it” and still have a presence in your community.

Who do children look up to now? Rappers, athletes and entertainers. That's been the case since the birth of televised media but only now, is the message being delivered, mostly mind numbing.

As a kid I looked up to 2Pac, Jay-Z, NaS, Bone Thugs n Harmony, Denzel Washington, Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders, Jerry Rice, Allen Iverson and of course Michael Jordan. But I also looked up to my parents and historic figures like: Malcolm X, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali and I actually heard the message in 2Pac’s music.

Our youth aren’t challenged to think for themselves but to just follow suit. Children see the final product, but not the journey, or the “How”. When you don’t see the journey or at least respect it, you don’t see it as a necessary step.

Everyone wants to be like Michael Jordan without the long hours of work he put into his craft, in order to reach his goals.

All of this causes a strain on our Communities and it shows.

It takes a village to raise a child: Doctor’s, lawyers, superintendents, principals, teachers, counselors, nurses, dentist, social workers, policeman, firemen, engineers etc. How many people reading this can say they grew up around these kinds of people?

Now I ask, how many of you all reading, know people who have these careers but live on the outskirts of the inner cities? Finally you understand.

People branch out to the suburbs to “provide a better life for their family” and in turn, wind up being a stranger in a community that they don’t belong to. We are running from ourselves.

Acknowledge, praise and promote the achievements of our communities' youth so that they have something to work for. But we can’t be afraid to reach back and constructively criticize those who aren’t reaching their full potential. Children aren’t as fragile as they are perceived to be.

Adults always say “oh the youth won’t listen” that’s mainly because we don’t SHOW them how it should be done; we assume they already know. What we do know is that are brought into the world as a blank canvas… Since this is such, help them paint a picture.

4) Who do you look up to?

Think about the people you look up to and why. Put into perspective what they went through, which can help you get where you want to be. It can also help you avoid making the same mistakes they made. You don’t have to go to jail to know that it’s not the place to be.

“It aint the spot, its dirty, it's filthy, you’re an animal. No man or woman wants to be here.” Spoken by none other than Tupac Shakur. Learn from your mistakes and those made by others.

5) What are you going to do about it?

JUST DO SOMETHING! I’m not asking everybody to start a blog. I’m not asking everybody to become a teacher, I’m not asking everybody to preach to your friends, I’m challenging you to do your part.

Do your part to make sure that the younger generations, benefit from your efforts. Be a mother and a Father to your children and be smart. People will always try to bring you down, but at least be brave enough to think for yourself and make sure you are doing your part to take back our Communities. I say “our” because they belong to the people living inside them.

Thanks for reading. I hope people are internalizing things and not taking this as a sermon. Whatever your goals are “JUST DO IT!”

Unfortunately, you all don’t hear me. This will be my last blog for some time as I am back to the drawing board. Be on the lookout for upcoming projects. Not just blogs but actual PROJECTS that I have cooking.

Thanks again to everyone who has been supporting me so far, I REALLY APPRECIATE YOU and be sure to check out my other posts:

“What Happened to the American Dream???”

“Thirty-Minutes: The American Government”

Read, comment and re-post, in that order.

© Ali Muhammad 2014

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