Just the other day I was riding to the store in my dad’s truck. As I turned into the parking lot I noticed two young men following their mother into the store. One of the young men walked right in front of me without looking. The other started to walk, noticed I was coming, stopped and put his arm out as if he were reaching to stop his brother from walking.
I stopped the truck of course and waved him on so that he could catch up to his family. He waved back to acknowledge me and show thanks, then ran ahead to catch his mom and brother. My boy Vic who was in the truck with me witnessed it all. I told him that I was so impressed with the young man who I had to go and say something to him and that’s what I did. As soon as I got into the store, I found them and asked them which one of them was the one that stopped for the truck. I couldn’t tell who was who because they were twins. Their names were Jamere and Jamelle. Jamere was the one that stopped for me.
I introduced my self to their mother and to them as Mr. Cliff. Then I told Jamere that it was very smart of him to stop and pay attention to what the truck was about to do. I complimented him on his intellect and told his brother that he should follow his lead because of how smart he is. Not to say that his brother wasn’t smart but in this instance Jamere out shined him. Jamere went on to tell me that his father always told him to pay attention to his surroundings. The impact of having a father teach his sons is great.
I complimented them some more, then I offered to buy them anything they wanted in the store. I ended up buying them both small Nerf guns. They were both very appreciative and so was their mother. They both told me that they wanted to have Lambos when they grew up. I told them that they have to keep their grades up and that they have to grind everyday in order to get them. But that it was possible to do if they stay focused. Then asked them if they raked leaves and shoveled snow in order to make money. I was trying to give them ideas on hustles that they could start now at an early age. They were only about nine or ten years old.
I wrote that short story just to say, tell a kid that isn’t yours that they are doing a great job. Reward them for their work. I may have planted something inside of them that will continue to grow as they get older. A random black man that they didn’t know gave them a reward for being smart. I am pretty sure that if that happened more often to more of our kids, all we would see from them is intellectual behavior.
The world tries to teach them that by being ignorant and acting foolish they will reap rewards. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. Let’s change that narrative and in doing so we will change our youths’ mindset.